When our sons were growing up, we used to have a tradition of passing a candle around the Sunday night dinner table and sharing what we felt thankful for. When it was his turn, our then seven year old piped up with, “Let me start with my un-thankfuls.” 

Un-thankfuls” became a favorite family expression. And as I think about the coming Thanksgiving holiday, I have to admit I do have a few of those. Not surprisingly, the presidential election results rank right up there. I grieve for our country and the loss of a truly inclusive vision of who we are and aspire to be.

But closer to home, I know I have so much to be thankful for. Here’s just a tiny sampling of my recent “thankfuls”:

  • My newly retired husband (AKA “resident whirling dervish”) decided to take it upon himself to go through the piles of magazines and newspapers I’d written articles for during my freelance days. He pulled out the tear sheets, inserted each into a plastic cover, and organized them into binders. It took the poor man three days. Every time he announced he was done, he’d find yet another box of magazines. Who knew I was that prolific? He even found articles I’d forgotten I’d written, including a bunch of Sunday features for the Ann Arbor News during a year we spent back in Michigan. Now granted, my husband’s generosity was partly self-serving. Living with a pack rat who swears she’ll organize her stuff “someday” isn’t easy. But still… He is such a nice man, and taking all this time to preserve a piece of my work meant a lot to me. I am so thankful to be married to my best friend and my forever love.
  • Our younger son, a new hire as an English teacher at an inner city high school, called us a couple of weeks ago to report on an amazing “break-through” in his most difficult class. The students in the class come from rival gangs, and getting them to work together has been… well, beyond challenging. “You’re not going to believe this!” he told us. “We were having a discussion about Hamlet, and they actually spoke to each other. They argued respectfully and even called each other by name.” He was thrilled, and reports the class has been going great guns ever since.
  • Meantime, I have my own little teaching moments to celebrate. One of my university students wrote in her revision letter for an assignment, “You’re the first English teacher I’ve had who really took the time to help me with my writing. Thank you!” Needless to say, she made my day.

So, while life continues to have its share of “un-thankfuls,” when I think about the amazing people in my life and the work I’ve been blessed to do, the “thankfuls” always come out way ahead.

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