Giving Thanks

Today, here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving Day.  I hope my international readers will bear with me, but in my country it’s customary on this day to wax gratitudinous and reflect on the blessings in our lives and the things we have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is many things.  It’s a day for family or friends to gather together and eat a traditional feast: turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and what have you.  It’s a day for many to kick back and watch football (American style, of course).  It’s a day to tell grade-school American history and mythology of the Pilgrims who sailed from England and Old Europe aboard the Mayflower and came to the Americas seeking freedom from religious persecution, and how they landed at Plymouth Rock, and how they faced and survived a harsh winter with the help of the local Native American tribe (the Wampanoag, specifically) assisted especially by one named Squanto, and how they were able to have a bountiful harvest, and invited their Native friends and held a massive feast.  And of course, it’s also the official start of the holiday shopping season, the first day in which it’s officially okay to play Christmas music, the day Santa appears in malls and department stores everywhere, following his triumphant arrival at the end of the annual Macy’s parade.  (Of course, these days he’s already been around for a few weeks.)

But more than all of that, Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks – about recognizing the wonderful blessings we have in our lives and expressing gratitude for them.  In keeping with that tradition, I want to express my thanks.

I’m thankful for my family.  My Dear Wife, who pushes me to become a better person, to improve who I am, to be better and wiser each day: how can I ever express my deep appreciation for what she does for me.  I try to be a good modern husband, helping around the house and taking a share of the responsibility, but in all honesty Dear Wife is the center of our home, ensuring everything happens on time and everything is in its place. I try to be proactive and productive, but I often fall short.  Dear Wife is the driving motor, the vitality, the energy of my life.  She’s smart – much smarter than I – and beautiful and compassionate – need I mention more beautiful and more compassionate than I?  And she’s even been supportive of my quirky little writing habit, helping to make sure I have time to do it.  What more can can a guy with a writerly bent ask for?

And my precious little B.T.  How can I say how thankful I am for him?  He’s talking now – really talking, stringing words together to form simple sentences – and boy does he have a lot to say.  When I come home from work, B.T. is so eager and excited to see me that he just can’t stand it – he just can’t hold it in.  Lately, he’s been rushing down the walkway to greet me as I get out of the car, shouting “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” and throwing his arms as tight around me as he can to give me one of his incredible hugs.  When you come home to that how can your heart not melt?  How can you not be thankful for that kind of love in your life.  B.T. means the world to me.  And I am deeply grateful to have him in my life. 

After those two things, everything else starts to pale in comparison.  But I’m thankful for a lot more.

This is a writer’s blog, so it’s not out of place to say I’m thankful for good books.  I enjoy reading, and good books by talented authors are the wellspring that lead me to become what I am: an author.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to express myself in words.  And I’m thankful that frequently other people – however small in number those other people may presently be – read the words I write.  Which means I’m thankful for you, dear reader.

I’m thankful for the speculative fiction genres.  I define myself as an author, but it is the worlds of speculative fiction that excite me and inspire me and motivate me.  If there was only the ordinary, mundane, modernist and realist kind of writing out there in the world, I somehow doubt I would’ve become a writer, because I’d never have had anything to excite my imagination.

I’m thankful for parents who cared about my education, growing up, who supported my interests and supporting my learning and helped me as much as they could even when we were skating the edge of poverty.  I’m thankful they kept their home well-stocked in paperback books to feed my growing hunger for words.

I’m thankful for my faith.  I’ve struggled periodically in my life with the specific tenets of my denomination (both that of my birth and that of my adult choice), with troublesome histories and troublesome policies.  But it’s the simplicity of my faith that sustains me when I can’t find the answers I crave to the questions that keep me up at night.  I still don’t have all those answers, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to keep looking, to find the path in life that complements the basic truths that I hold dear.

And I’m grateful still to have a mind keen enough to keep putting words to paper, to keep questioning myself and seeking answers.  I’m still young enough, yet, that I shouldn’t worry about the slowing of my mind in time – but there’s no time like the present to express gratitude for opportunities I’ve had to expand my mind and sharpen my wits.

Those are just a few of the things I’m grateful for.  What are you grateful for?