Thanksgiving has always been one of the holidays I looked forward to the most. My grandparents used to host all of our holidays until my Grandmother passed away in 1987. After that, holidays were split between my mother (Easter), her sister (Thanksgiving) and her brother (Christmas). Thanksgiving was always a lot of fun because we would get to hang out in my aunt’s basement and play Atari, or up in my cousin’s bedroom listening to rock music, teasing up our hair, and playing with makeup and jewelry. I miss those days. I especially miss the days at my grandparents’ house, when my sister & I would get under the table and tap everyone’s legs while they were still eating dinner. We used to think that was the funniest thing ever. When someone says “immediate family” to me, it means my mom’s siblings and their children (and their children and spouses). We’re up to 30 people. THAT is my immediate family, and I am forever thankful for them.
While a lot of my friends have been dedicating their Facebook statuses to what they’re thankful for, I’m going to let my thankfulness spill out right here on the blog. Here we go…
Mom & Daddy
It’s hard to find the words to express how thankful I am for my parents. I am thankful for the doctors that have saved their lives: my mother, from cancer. My father, from 2 heart attacks, 1 open heart sextuple bypass surgery, 1 stent, and most recently (and my worst nightmare, while we were en route home from our September vacation), a stroke. It is by the grace of God that my parents are here. I thank God every day that they are well. I am also thankful for everyone’s well wishes for my parents, especially my dad. A dear friend from college calls my dad Stefano DiMera. Stefano is the resident bad guy in the fictional Salem on the long-running soap “Days of our Lives”. Not only does Stefano talk with an accent similar to my father’s, but Stefano has died and come back from the dead 11 times. As my friend said after hearing about my dad’s first heart attack, “Stefano never dies.” Sixteen years later, that comforts me (thanks, Dom!).
My Sister & Brother-in-law, and their 2 awesome little girls and dog
My dear baby sister. For as different as we are (and we are both very different), we are so similar. My sister and I would fight like nobody’s business growing up (and into adulthood), but she is someone I couldn’t imagine my life without. We share each other’s secrets (and keep them; nobody will ever break that between us), we make each other laugh, we can criticize each other without taking offense, and we’re always there for each other. She has a successful and fulfilling career doing exactly what she was born to do, a beautiful home, an adorable dog, and two of the sweetest little girls on this planet. My two-year-old niece Little Pants and my 4-month-old baby niece Cheeks are the light of my life. And, on top of all of that, she got really lucky and married an amazing guy. My brother-in-law is an incredible guy. He has passion for his career and has pride in what he does. He adores my sister, and has been really good for her. He’s grounded her, and helped her gain the confidence she needed to be out on her own (don’t deny that, A! We both know you & I would still be sitting pretty at our parents’ house right now if we were single…). He is also a loving, dedicated, FUN, dad and father. I love seeing their family grow.
One day, my girlfriend said “I’m going to rush this sorority.” I looked at her weird, because we weren’t sorority girls. But this wasn’t your typical sorority. Whomever wanted to join, could join. The first girl I met at rush was a cousin of a high school acquaintance, and she made me feel so welcomed. The girls I met because of joining that sorority truly are my sisters. They would do anything for me, and I them. We could go weeks without speaking but pick up right where we left off. I love them dearly.
Penn State also forged friendships of different kinds: classmate friendships (that in some cases, became roommate friendships), Schuylkill Campus friendships, and other random acts of friendship (that spawned dear friendships with spouses). I am forever grateful for you all.
And then there are my hometown friends. The guys & girls that still share inside jokes from when we were 14. The girls that I can say “drive by” to, and they know it’s not a Train song. The ones that can recite every single line from a Golden Girls episode or the movie Clue, without missing a beat; and the others that know the appropriate response when I say “Orange Juice?”.
Despite some little things here and there in the past few years, I am very grateful for my health. I am also grateful to be well-insured, because we all know how random situations land me in the doctor’s office. I also have to STOP Googling every single ache or pain, thinking there’s something wrong with me.
I’ve fought long and hard to get where I am in my career. I am beyond blessed to work for a great company with an incredible team. I’m also grateful for the friendships that my job as forged (C, K, R, the FB crew!), and the exciting things that come along with my job. Aside from some major career successes and a big promotion, I also got to meet some of my favorite chefs, and even Vanilla Ice this year.
I’m pretty lucky to be one of those people that doesn’t have an in-law horror story. I’m very, very lucky. I’m also lucky to have two sets of awesome in-laws, and very thankful that I had 3 beautiful years with my father-in-law before he passed away. He was a gem of a man. A once-in-a-lifetime guy, whose stories would often leave you in pain from laughing so hard. He was brilliant. He also had one of the biggest hearts you’d ever know. I miss him dearly every single day.
It’s so cliche (and I don’t love cliches), but he truly came into my life when I didn’t expect or want it. I was just 30 and wanting to sorta do my thing for a while (whatever that was supposed to be). In the past almost 6 years, we’ve had a lot of really great highs, and some incredibly challenging lows. Lows that would have destroyed most couples. Not us. I’m grateful for him every single day of my life, and I’m grateful for all that he came with: a loving family; and a set of friends so big, and so caring and loyal, it’s just a reflection how great he truly is. We have a tremendous life. We travel, we eat at some of the best restaurants in the world (that is truly our hobby; food is such an important experience for us), and we have the best friends. We are blessed.
I hope you all take time each day, not just on Thanksgiving, to be thankful for what you have, and who you are. I am certainly thankful, and humbled, because of everyone in my life. Thank you all.