After lamenting over the fact that the foundation of my good fortune is based upon blind luck, I must admit that I have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.
The following is a terribly incomplete list:
1. My children, who are my greatest blessing in life. I find joy in everything that they do. Though I know that things may not be nearly as blissful as they grow older, they are a pair of well behaved, even-keeled kids who make parenting unexpectedly easy for us.
2. My wife, who has proven to be a remarkable mother with near-flawless instincts when it comes to parenting. She is tough, loving, unwavering and willing to do what is best for our children in all things.
She is also the best wife. I know many, many wives, and I have yet to meet one better than Elysha. She encourages me at every step, accepts me at every turn and is my partner in all of my endeavors.
She’s also incredibly beautiful, which is a nice bonus.
3. In these not-so-easy economic times, I am thankful to still find myself with the means of providing for my family.
I’m in my fifteenth year of teaching and love it today as much as I did when I began so long ago. While I may have an eye on teaching high school or college sometime in the not-so-distant future, I still adore my days in the classroom with my fifth graders and am blessed to be doing something that I love and something that I’ve dreamed about doing since childhood.
In addition, I’m working with some of the finest teachers who I have ever known, and together, I feel like we are making enormous differences in the lives of children.
My DJ company remains successful after 17 years in business. While I am doing considerably fewer weddings than in previous years, this is by choice, and it has made the business much more enjoyable. We are only working with clients who we choose at venues we know and like.
My writing career continues to prosper. My fourth novel will publish sometime next year. My fifth is nearly complete and already in the hands of my agent, as is a memoir about my last season of golf and the start of a more traditional memoir about the struggles that I have experienced throughout my life. I also have a on-the-side novel that I am pecking away at now and then that I like a lot.
In addition to all this, I am fortunate enough to be paid for tutoring gigs, speaking gigs and a variety of other side jobs. Finding work is not been a problem for me, and I know how fortunate I am for this.
4. I am thankful for The Moth, the storytelling organization that allowed me to take a stage two years ago and tell my first story. Since that day, I have competed in more than 20 StorySLAMs, 3 GrandSLAMs and a Mainstage show. My stories have appeared on the Moth’s Radio Hour and their weekly podcast, and I’ve been fortunate enough to win 10 StorySLAM competitions so far.
This success has opened doors to storytelling opportunities with organizations like The Story Collider, Literary Death Match, The Mouth and more, and this year led to the launch of Speak Up, the storytelling organization that Elysha and I produce in Hartford.
It’s amazing how something that did not exist in my life three years ago is suddenly such a enormous part of my life now.
5. I am thankful for my friends, a collection of honest, direct, intelligent, successful people who miraculously accept me for who I am and stand by me in times of trouble.
6. I am thankful for the Patriots, a team suffering from a series of near-catastrophic injuries yet have given me something to cheer about.
7. I am thankful for canned, jellied cranberry sauce. We should eat much more of this throughout the year.
8. I am thankful for Bill Bryson, William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Nicholson Baker, JK Rowling, Jasper Fforde, Mark Twain, Nora Ephron, Billy Collins, David Sedaris and Kurt Vonnegut and a dozen others who I have shamefully forgotten to mention. These are writers who continue to entertain and inspire me every day.
I’m also thankful for the many, many writers who I have gotten to know over the past 5 years who have shared so much, taught me more and generously offered their hands in friendship.
9. I am thankful for Bluetooth headphones and the limitless supply of podcasts and music that pour forth from them on a daily basis.
10. I am thankful for puddles in the driveway, so that I can watch my daughter splash in them.
11. I am thankful for pickup basketball and the occasional collisions in flag football.
I’d be thankful for tackle football if I could find someone to play with me.
12. I am thankful for Kaleigh, a dog who can admittedly annoy us to no end but is the only other living being willing to climb out of bed at 4:00 AM with me and head downstairs to work. Almost every sentence that I compose is written with Kaleigh underfoot.
13. I’m thankful for Owen, our twenty pound bulimic house cat who wakes us in the middle of the night and bites us from time to time but accepts all of our children’s poking and prodding and full-body hugs with patience and love.
14. I’m thankful for our many babysitters, and especially Allison, who take such amazing care of our children when we are gallivanting about.
15. I’m thankful for my literary agent, my film agent, my editor, the booksellers of the world and all the other bookish and entertainment professionals who make my sentences sound gooder and help my stories find their way into readers’ hands.
16. I’m thankful for golf.
17. I’m thankful for my family. A father who I am finally beginning to know. A brother who is back in my life after many years apart. A sister who should be writing more. Aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins who my children are getting to know. And my wife’s family, who have taken me in and made me feel like a part of their family.
My family situation has never been the most stable and normal one in the world, but I’m fortunate nonetheless.