Thanksgiving and Thanks

As one of the top complainers on the internet, I figured it’d be a good change of pace today to come up with some things I am thankful for.  I have every expectation this will be an easy exercise.

First, I am thankful I was lucky enough to be raised by Jim and Gwen Toner.  It all kind of starts there, right?  Our parents are our main influences, and without them, we wouldn’t be the people we are today.  I could list 100 things about them both that I am thankful for, but I’ll just mention the one that has stayed with me the longest over time.  They both understood that raising children involved making personal sacrifices.  Because of their understanding of this, I know I’m in a better place than many.  We didn’t have a lot of money.  We never owned a boat or fancy cars.  I don’t recall a vacation that wasn’t either camping or climbing into the car for a long drive.  If anything, the family had quite a bit of medical related debt most of the time, but we had each other and a vision about the type of person they were trying to mold us into — work ethic, attitude and moral compass were always high on the list — with room to be yourself as well.   Mom’s example taught me that all you really need in life is a good group of friends and deck of cards.  Dad taught me that the harder I try, the luckier I get.   The educational experience I was exposed to taught me that wealth is a relative thing.  Even with an uphill battle ahead of us to get ahead, compared to 2/3 of the rest of the world, The Toner family — all 6 of us living on a middle school teacher’s income most of the time, were born on 3rd base.   I’m reminded of that often.

I am also thankful for my loving wife Donna who gets me at the deepest level and accepts me for who I am at all times.  We are very different individuals.  In many cases polar opposites.  Yet I am so enriched by her presence and lucky to have found her that I try to never take that for granted.   I wish everyone could be this lucky.   The last 9 years have been an amazing journey.  In our vows we both acknowledged that life will bring us headwinds, and to be sure it has.  But at the core, if you’re with someone who has the head and the heart to deal with adversity, you have nothing to worry about.  That’s why when I proposed, and said those vows, I didn’t think twice about it and have been living a charmed life ever since.  Grow old with your best friend is a beautiful thing.

Since last Thanksgiving I have two new daughter-in-laws that I’m very thankful for.  Ari and Emily are enriching Rob and Dan in much the same way Donna enriches me.  This was a New Year’s wish of mine a few years ago … that my son’s meet a nice girl, and it came to be.  I am thankful for the boys finding their soul mates and carving out paths for themselves and being independent men who think for themselves always.

I am thankful the Gilpin family who has makes me proud every day in the way they raise our 2 grandchildren, Kaden and Karter.  These are going to be two fine young men.  I’ll bet the farm on it.

I am grateful for my sisters who are all wonderful human beings in every way.  The competition continues this day with Words with Friends and after going 0-fer the 1960’s against them in every game imaginable, I’m finally getting some satisfaction out of game playing with them.  I’m not sure if they let me win once in a while or not, but it sure feels good when I do.  Thank goodness for the word “strength meter” or else I’d lose every time.   That tool levels the playing field a bit.

I am thankful for my extended Fritts family who, despite my wearing Duck gear, invite me to join at their Thanksgiving feast every year.  This year had some challenges and adversity in having to deal with a death in the family and moving mom.   It was awesome to witness the incredible teamwork in the face of all of this.  I’m sure that the 5 kids are just as thankful for Janet and Dorence as I am of Jim and Gwen for much the same reasons.  When the chips are down, the family hangs together.

I’m very thankful for my friends.  In recent years I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good to go for quality over quantity.  Well, duh, that should have been obvious, but some of us are slow learners.   It’s not easy being my friend sometimes, especially if you’re a Republican.  So thanks for hanging in there Karla and Mike!   Mom’s example of the deck of cards and good group of friends often crosses my mind these days.

I am thankful for my health.  It’s not been stellar of late – some minor bumps in the road, but once again I’m reminded of the relative nature of this.  Compared to the rest of the world, my health is on 3rd base.   As we encounter friends and family who also battle health issues, it’s a constant reminder to live in the moment.  Ever the planner, that’s a concept that has taken a while to register with me, but I’m getting there.

I’m thankful that through nothing more than chance, I was born in one of the most awesome areas in the world, the Pacific Northwest, which, after visiting other parts of the country, man it’s nice to step back onto that one of a kind carpet at PDX and get to call this place home.

Last but not least, I’m thankful that I live in a country where we have the first amendment (which I freely exercise on Twitter daily).  The struggles of the past year that are tearing at the very fabric of this country and sure to be temporary.   Sometimes the pendulum swings pretty far in one direction but it always corrects itself.  I’m confident in that we’ll be okay.  We might have to go through some pain in the short-term, but we’ll get through it.  I believe the goodness of the human spirit will prevail in the long run.  My approach has been to be a part of the resistance movement, which feels right to me.  I’m thankful everyone who joins in the resistance movement in whatever way they are able to.







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