It has been quite the year. We’ve had dizzying highs- Sean truly hitting his stride with his posse of friends, the exhibit I worked on for four years finally opening and winning some pretty awesome awards, some research the Lad had worked on getting submitted in a sweet paper, mom’s surgery being a rollicking success and her supposedly fatal disease handled, a trip of a lifetime to Alaska. But we’ve also had some nasty lows. Rough patches at both of our jobs. The Lad’s grandmother died suddenly this summer, my grandfather died 2 weeks ago after being in the hospital since mid-October. It can be all too easy to be mired in the day to day and forget the big picture.
The other day, driving the kid to school, he and I were chatting. We started talking about our holiday donations- his allowance is split between mad money, savings, and charity, and at the end of each year he picks what charity to support. This year he wants to do Child’s Play and Save the Rhinos. The longest part of that conversation was narrowing down the options and explaining that we actually contribute to charity all year long, as he was concerned that charities needed money all year but we were only giving at the holidays. With that debate handled, what, I asked, was he looking forward to most about the winter holidays? His answer stunned me. I expect an 8 year old to be voracious, capitalist, and all about the presents and in second place, the sugar. “Lighting the menorah and eating latkes at Chanukah.” he said. I practically drove off of the road. “Uh, really? Not Christmas morning?” He allowed as how he liked Christmas just fine, but Christmas morning can be a little crazy, and could he please spread out opening his presents a little more so it doesn’t feel so intense, and, he added, “Besides. What I like most is being together and doing stuff together.”
I am thankful I have somehow managed to, so far, not raise a total self-absorbed jerk. The world has plenty of those.
I am thankful that I went to a grad school that ultimately was a horrible fit for me, and didn’t go to Yale which would have suited me much better.
I am thankful I persevered when that guy in grad school told me no way was he dating while in grad school, and if he did he sure as hell wouldn’t date within his department.
I am thankful that I walked away from my first career love.
I am thankful when that tiny company said ‘we want to fly you out here to consult with us for a day. We’ll pay for your travel, and eventually maybe we can contract you, but right now you’d be consulting for free’ I didn’t say ‘no freaking way’ and instead said ‘ok’, against everything everyone in consulting had ever told me.
I am thankful that I didn’t listen to the parenting books that told me not to have the hard conversations just yet.
“What I like most is being together and doing stuff together.”
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone. May you not forget the good stuff.