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Giving Thanks

We live in a world marked with many cliches that we use so many times in our lives. One of those might be “the things we take for granted.” A little over a month ago, I experienced that cliche which was accompanied by a set of “the guilts,” which I deserved to have for feeling what I was before the events of my experience took place.

Sally and I live in the first home we ever bought, which, at the end of this year will finally be paid off, but it is an older home and some of the original plumbing and electric workings are reaching, or nearing, or have miraculously outlived, the end of their life expectancies, and the cost of repairs is more than I’d like to have to spend.

About six weeks ago, we had to have some plumbing work done, and they found the problem to be possibly part of a somewhat larger one, which might require more extensive work to be done, and then the furnace let us know it needed some attention before winter, so we had to attend to that.

After the first estimate was done, I slumped in my chair and began the recitation of “Why me” “Why can’t I catch a break” and “This only happens to me” script which I refer to at times when I think I am getting shortchanged in life.

A couple days later, Sally and I went to 4 p.m. Mass at St. John Church, where the homily was about how at times, we question why God lets bad things (way worse than my ridiculous, fixable problems) happen, and I then, which often times I do, felt that Father Mende followed me around all week and decided that my attitude would be great material for his weekly sermon.

Sally is pretty good at not elbowing me, if she doesn’t have to, when she knows I should pay especially close attention to Father Dennis or Deacon Sam’s words.

Usually, if I look over at her, I’ll probably see her glancing at me out of the corner of her eye, with her special little smile telling me to pay attention because God is talking to me.

If the words of the sermon that day didn’t start the “guilts,” then the part of the Mass where we pray for our own needs and intentions, usually silently, dumped a whole bucket of them on my head that day.

Trying to be remorseful for being so selfish with my own “problems” and feeling sorry for myself, when we reached that special intention part of the Mass, a woman sitting with two of her daughters spoke aloud and asked for God’s help because her family of five was trying to make their way back to Kansas, and they had little money and no place to sleep that night, as for a long period of time, they were living out of their very old and worn vehicle, sleeping in a tent, looking for work and moving from place to place. The woman home schooled her three daughters as they traveled, and that evening, the weather called for severe thunderstorms and the tent wasn’t going to shelter them properly.

Talk about getting hit with a 2-by-4 right across the head, I felt extremely ashamed of myself for the way I had been thinking, feeling, and blaming God for my minuscule misfortunes, and not realizing just how good I have it in my life. I am truly blessed for all that I have in my life.

I have, and have had, so many wonderful people in my life … family, close friends, colleagues, people who have given me so much help and so many opportunities, and so many who have shared in the many ventures which I have been able to be a part of in my life. I have had jobs which I have loved doing, and which have provided me the means to support my family, put food on the table, clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and have allowed us to share sporting events, concerts, family trips, and other outings and opportunities. I have been given opportunities to go places, be a part of programs, to coach and officiate sports which I love, and I have been able to find and create situations and chances and share them with others who might not have had, or ever have the opportunities to do.

I have been able to live in homes which have given shelter, warmth and peace, but more importantly, memories. For the first 25 years of my life, one home was shared with my parents and family growing up, and after that my homes were the three apartments, and then our present house/home, the one purchased and shared with my now life-long partner and best friend, my children, and now with our four-legged feline friend.

You’d think that all of this would tell you that I have been blessed with an absolutely wonderful life, and you would be 100 percent correct, I have been. My problem is that I tend to forget that sometimes when things happen.

(Thankfully, my better half reminds me with that “corner of the eye” look, that coy little smile, and/or the “if necessary” elbow in the side.)

Another great thing about my life is that I am reminded from time to time that the things that usually bring me down are so much simpler than things other people are going through and I am ashamed I have acted in ways that have forced me to have to admit that, but I am grateful for the reminders that I have so much to be grateful for and that I do have a wonderful life.

So at my Thanksgiving table this coming Thursday, I will make sure my prayer before the feast will be one of true thanks for everyone and everything I have had, and presently have, in my life. (My prayer will also include a special thanks to my maker for padding that two-by-four before clobbering me with it.) Happy Thanksgiving to all!