It's Thanksgiving here in the U.S., the day we all show how thankful we are for various things by stuffing ourselves with turkey and stuffing. For the past two years, Carina and I have hopped between her folks and mine, trying to squeeze as much thankfulness as we could in one day. This year, our first Thanksgiving as a real family, we have decided to join my parents (because they're closer) for dinner tonight, then have them over to our house for dessert and coffee. Tomorrow we're driving up to Carina's parents' house to join them for breakfast.
So... what am I thankful for? By all outward appearances, we have a very successful family: we have a house, two automobiles, a large television and a DVD player, all four of us has our own computer, we're literate and educated (or, in the twins' case, getting there), et cetera et cetera. I'm thankful for all of this stuff, but none of it is particularly important to me. What I'm really thankful for, the thing that has brought me to the edge of tears several times in the last year, is the indescribable feeling of deep, unspoiled joy I have for my family. It warms my entire body to hear Tyler call out "Daddy!" when she needs me. I am tickled pink when Tayler races through the door after school bursting to tell me something. I am comorted beyond words to fall asleep every night, and wake every morning, next to the woman who makes all my dreams pleasant, and soothes any nightmares that creep past.
When we took the kids to the Ohio State Fair this year, we took turns riding with them on the kiddie coasters. On Carina's turn, I stood at the edge, watching them race past after the big drop as the coaster whipped them into the spiral turn. All three ladies' faces were alight with happiness. That snapshot of the three of them, wind snapping at their hair, mouths open in shrieks of delight, hands waving high in the air, caught my breath in my throat, stilled my heart, and smothered me with total happiness, love, and devotion. Tears crept into my eyes, blurring my vision for just a moment. I blinked, and time resumed, speeding the girls around the turn on the coaster, pulling the sound of their delighted screams with them. That image, though, will stay with me for a long, long time.
As I experience more and more the challenges of parenthood, I also grow more and more thankful for my own parents. They were really good parents, and I owe so very much to them. I hope that I can be as good to my children as they were to me. I realize now, thanks to the perspective of hindsight, how much I took them for granted, how little I appreciated the sacrifices they made, and how little I paid attention to the things they did - large and small - for me and my sister. It shames me, some, thinking of how selfish I was.
I am thankful for all the best things in my life, those things which are not physical things. Family. Support. Trust. Compasison. Love.