I am keenly aware that I write a lot of negative commentary, criticizing a variety of groups about a variety of issues, but the upcoming holiday has prompted me to think about things that I am thankful for. The importance of remaining positive, even in the face of frustration over seemingly insurmountable problems, cannot be understated.
I am thankful that everyone in my family is relatively healthy and has safe living conditions: my children, my wife, my parents, my brother and his family, and my in-laws. And I am thankful that I have the means to be a supportive father, husband, and son. I am thankful that my parents had the foresight to insist that I get an education so I am qualified to seek employment in the professional sector. I am thankful that both of my parents are still alive, and relatively well, so that I can express my appreciation to them.
I am thankful to be doing something I love and making a living at it. I am thankful to be teaching young people about writing, and I guess about life, too. I am thankful that my love for words was fostered and that I was taught to have the fortitude to be who I am, without the fear of society’s responses to me. I am thankful that I was taught to be honest and fair. Everyone doesn’t get that; some people are taught to be selfish and extractive and materialistic, and I am thankful that my parents raised me to understand that helping other people and making square deals is the right way to live.
I am thankful for my wife, who sees to it that I have the time and resources to do the work that I love, who looks after our children in a gracious and kind manner, and who also understands that helping people is not a matter to question but to do. Not everyone has someone like her, and I am thankful that I do.
I am thankful that I have a good life. Some of that is a result of my hard work and good decisions, but other portions of it were beyond my control. I was not born to parents who abused or belittled me; I was raised by parents who worked hard to lift me up. I was raised by parents who had no tolerance for dishonesty or laziness or waste. I was sent to a good school that my family had trouble paying for, and even though I disliked it at the time because I did not fit in with my upper middle-class classmates, I now am thankful for the value of that education, what I learned inside the classrooms and what I learned dealing with people unlike myself. I am thankful that I had a brother who got me involved in the arts, whose old cheap guitar was the first one I plunked on, and whose interest in theater carried me there too. All of these things have enriched my life.
And finally I am thankful that I have found meaningful work. I am thankful that Clark Walker let me write about him, and I am thankful that Barbara Beecher trusted me enough to help me write about her late husband. I am thankful for Randall Williams whose guidance led me into both editing and Civil Rights commemoration projects. I am thankful for Robert Evans, whose kind and humane teaching style I emulate every day. I am thankful for doing this kind of work, writing and editing and teaching, and I hope to do a lot more of it.