Over the thanksgiving holiday, we paused to give thanks for the good fortune in our lives.
To me at least, we literally only paused to give thanks for our good fortune. Just as it takes seven hours to prepare a feast that takes 20 minutes to eat, we finished being thankful and quickly moved onto setting alarms so we could get to Wal-Mart timely– some of us even carrying pepper spray.
Even though Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday has all passed and as most of us finish (or start) our holiday shopping, I am still in a reflective and thankful mood. I am very thankful for a couple relatively small things, that took a lifetime of work and maturation to earn.
I am thankful for my home.
I could rant about the value of my home now versus when I purchased it. But the number an appraiser puts on my home is unimportant.
What makes my home, "home" is my wife and son. On stressful days at work, in the back of my mind is that when the day is over, I am able to go home, smile with my son and sit next to my wife, decompressing and saying little– to the consternation of my wife– happy to be back in the place my wife and I built together. I am happy because there is food in the refrigerator and when I turn up the thermostat, warm air blows through the ducts. Many nights I find myself comfortable in my home office as my son and wife sleep. I am thankful they sleep comfortably in the cosy home we built.
It wasn’t always this way. Ten years ago, she said no. I found myself cold and alone on my father’s basement floor. I was confused, angry and alone. Although I had a place to sleep, I was homeless, fearing to go out into the world but unable to stay in the place I laid my head at night.
As the months dragged on, I started caring more about the person looking back at me in the mirror. The smiles that at first were nonexistent and later forced, were coming naturally again.
I found my life’s new normal and my friends were once again happy to have me around, rather than just tolerating my presence. Quite accidentally, I found my future wife. As we slowly grew together, there were pitfalls. My health rapidly deteriorated when my kidney function failed. Unable to keep food down, my weight dropped and there were whispers of people wondering what was wrong. Not wanting the pity of friends and acquaintances (ironic now, considering how I write about the experiences), I kept my illness from most everyone, until a week or two before the transplant.
In 2005, the transplant at Northwestern was a success and a few months later, my wife and I were married. The foundation laid earlier in my career started to pay dividends. My wife got pregnant and three years ago this month, we had our son.
Now, I find myself paralyzed with anxiety by another new addition. Throughout 2011, my wife’s pregnancy was not something either of us thought much about while juggling work and family. Then Thanksgiving came and I paused– she’s going to be here in a month! Then the calendar turned to December and the pause turned into paralysis. With all the things to do, I was getting nothing done.
Slowly, I started putting one foot in front of the other– very slowly my wife will tell you. And although doing the things that needed to be done meant my fantasy football team suffered tremendously, for the most part we’re "ready."
So now, I am back to where I was when I started writing this piece three weeks ago during Thanksgiving weekend. Thankful for the roof over my head. Thankful for my wife and son. Hopeful of my daughter’s safe delivery this week. Thankful for the food in the refrigerator. Thankful for the warmth of my home.
Those are my presents this holiday season.
Filed under: Change of Pace