Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks: Part 2

It's the day after Black Friday and I've slept a couple of hours after having worked the mid. I've had a couple cups of coffee and am getting ready to pour a third. Time to begin writing part two of the thankfulness list:

11. Chillicothe, IL. I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois. Some would say that it's just like any other small town in the Midwest. What makes Chillicothe different from the thousands of other small towns is that Chillicothe is home. We played Little League baseball and anybody that wanted to play got to play. After the games, the winners would pile into the coach's pickup truck or station wagon and meet at the A&W for a celebratory root beer. When there wasn't a league game, we met at the park or at a field and played a pick-up game. We rode our bikes all over town, met at the Chilli Bowl for an order of fries or at St. Ed's for a game of HORSE at the basketball courts. There was a comfort to living in a small town. Even though I am grateful for my small town heritage, I am also happy to have moved on.

12. Ozark, MO. I have come full circle. When I quit college many years ago, I made the statement, "Chillicothe is a great town to grow up in and a great place to raise your family; but I'm all grown up (I wasn't) and I'm not ready to raise a family." I stayed in New Orleans and after a couple of moves, ended up in the Chicago area. When our kids were still young, we moved to another Midwestern small town--Ozark. Aaron has already moved to Chicago and I fully expect Hannah to move away from her small town home at a future date, too. I hope that they will value their small town upbringing and raise their families with the values that were a part of their early lives.

13. Diversity. In between living in Chillicothe and moving to Ozark (15 years ago), we have lived in a number of other towns and cities--a few months in New Orleans (after dropping out of Tulane), the greater Chicago area, St. Louis, a few months in Oklahoma City (while at the FAA Academy) and a couple of smaller towns. In spite of the fact that our kids haven't been exposed to a great deal of diversity in our home community, they have turned out to have very few prejudices and are interested in the cultural backgrounds of the people they encounter in school, work, church and other areas of their lives. I believe that they are certain of their own beliefs and feel comfortable sharing their beliefs. And they are also comfortable and interested in the beliefs and philosophies of other cultures.

14. Prosperity. Money and material things may seem out of place in a list of things that are more focused on the intangibles of life. However, I am very much aware of fact that there are many people in my own community that live in need...every single day. Our home is a modest one. There is nothing notable about any of our cars (other than the fact that I own three of them, two with 150,000+ miles). We don't own a boat, an RV or a vacation home. We share a laptop computer, have only the most basic cable service and live in the technological dark ages without a smart phone, iPad, iPod, x-box, PS, Wii, DVR or any of the other digital toys that many of you own. My home is warm. My freezer and pantry are well stocked. My gas tank is full and will get me to work next week. I am not wealthy by any means. I fit into the 99% when measured against the wealthiest of this country. But I also know that the simple fact that I have a home, multiple cars, a job and more food than I need places me closer to the 1% when measured against the poverty of much of the world.

15. Living in the USA. I really don't know what I can add to that. I know that our current gang of elected officials make it difficult to give our government any kind of positive credibility, but we have the power to change that. I love my country and am proud those that serve to guard our freedoms. I have to say that I am disappointed that there haven't been more citizens to stand up and support the nation's public employees when it has become popular to characterize us as overpaid, under-worked, self-serving, incompetent people. Ohio came through in a recent election and perhaps we would see more support at the polls for future votes. Occupy Wall Street has been the movement for this fall. I hope that Occupy the Voting Booth will be the movement for next fall. In the words of the Branson comedian Yakov, "WHAT A COUNTRY!"

16. Health. I can honestly say that any health issues that I have are self-inflicted. It is said that knowledge is power--unless, of course, you choose to ignore what you know. I am thankful that I have accessible healthcare and that I have insurance to guard against a major expenditure.

17. Knowledge. I'd put "education" but my formal education is pretty non-existent. As a young man, I dropped out of school and began to make my way in the work world. I wouldn't recommend this to others, but it has turned out quite well for me. I've been blessed with a desire to know and I enjoy reading. The two have worked together to help me learn much in spite of the lack of formal education. I was very proud of Chris when she made her way back to school and am proud of my kids for their pursuit of formal education. I have come to value education more than I once thought I would and chalk that up to the foolishness of youth.

18. Along with education, I have to put teachers. I have had some really good ones; so have my kids. Recent governmental policies have painted teachers (especially Union teachers) as overpaid and spoiled rotten public employees. I think that this is shameful. Not only have we taken away the tools that they often need to be successful in the classrooms, we have made education into a business of being able to pass state tests (to get more funding) rather than teaching our kids the joys of learning. To all of my teachers that have loved teaching, "Thank you!"

19. Friends. Maybe it's just a guy thing, but I have few people that I would put in the category of close friends. Over the years, there have been just a handful that I would feel comfortable calling on at any time, for any reason. On the other hand, I have so many that are much more than acquaintances and enrich my life in so many ways. I work with great people. My church family is awesome. My extended networks through both work and ministry have put me in touch with people from all over that encourage and inspire me by the way they deal with life on a daily basis. Of course, some are closer than others and all for different reasons and in different ways. The common ground that I share with each of my friends varies greatly and really do cherish my relationship with each of you.

20. Extended family. I grew up knowing my cousins (on Dad's side of the family). We got together often and always seemed to along well. I wish that my kids were able to see their cousins as often as I saw mine. I am enjoying reconnecting with many of them through Facebook and even meeting some of my cousins from my Mom's side. I never thought of my cousins as being way older than me, but since most of them have grandkids now, I guess they must be! It's been a very long time since I've seen most of my extended family. I managed to see some this past summer and hope to see more of you soon. growing up with you guys was great!

Well, that's 11-20. 21-30 will becoming soon, hopefully before the end of the month.


1 comment:

Mike said...

'basic cable service'

You have cable? You elitist you!!