Gratitude 2009

It’s been pointed out to me that every Thanksgiving (or possibly more often) I take the time to blog about how I make the best mashed potatoes in the world. Well, this year I’m not going to.

Even though it’s true.

And I’m also not going to go on and on about how the excruciating process I go through to make the Banana Cream Parfait results in what is widely regarded as the best dessert in the world.

Because I’ve done that before, too.

Instead, I’m going to take a few minutes — like I did last year — to list a few of the things I’m thankful for.

Susan

Yesterday I was thinking: When was the last time Susan felt really normal? Well, she was originally diagnosed with cancer about five years ago, so at least that long.

Except five years ago the twins had just turned two — and any parent with twins knows that those first two years aren’t exactly restful. And then of course, before the twins were born Susan was pregnant with them, which was a major ordeal, too.

So: the last time Susan felt really healthy that I remember was about eight years ago. In fact, I remember the last weekend of when she felt healthy: She and I went to Moab to do a charity run (yes, run). I did the half-marathon, she did the five-miler. She remarked afterward that she felt kind of tired during the run. The next Monday, we would find out she was pregnant (we wouldn’t find out about the twin part for a while afterward).

Eight years. That’s just not fair. And yet, she’s dealt with it and continued to take care of us and be exactly the kind of mom and wife her family needs.

Now, of course, I take care of her, and I’m thankful for the chance to repay her a little.

My Kids

While I am writing this, my twins are sitting on the kitchen floor, drawing and singing made-up songs. The twins are always together, taking care of each other and working as a team in ways that nobody but twins (and maybe parents of twins) can even begin to understand.

Last night, the boys — without my asking them to — made dinner, read to Susan, and put the girls to bed. Seeing that I need help, they’ve jumped right in.

I’ve got great kids. I’m thankful for who they are. I should also be thankful to Susan for how they’re turning out, too. Credit where credit’s due.

My Family

It’s funny how when things get really bad I just assume my parents are going to be there to help. I guess that’s an assumption I make easily, because — if they can be — they are. My dad’s in Portugal right now and can’t easily come back home, but my Mom moves heaven and earth to come out and help. And Susan’s mom — in spite of the fact that she has her own mother to take care of — finds a way to come over and help, too.

And then there are my sisters.

When I was a kid, I used to privately feel cheated. Four sisters? Why did I have to have four sisters?

And now I am so glad I have these four sisters. Each as different as can be, but similar in that they are all very strong, practical, smart, and ready to help.

My Neighbors

Not a single day goes by that I don’t lean on my neighbors in some way. They’ve taken my portion of the carpooling to school. They take care of doing the twins’ hair before school. They come over to hang out with Susan. They’ve come and spent the night when I needed to take Susan to the emergency room. They moved stuff and rearranged my living room under vague instructions with no warning to make a new bedroom for Susan.

These are all people who have their own kids, their own jobs, their own troubles. But they make time every day to help us out.

I am very thankful for my neighbors.

The Core Team

I’ve been riding with the same group of guys for about fifteen years now. These are the guys I would rather ride with, eat with, and go on a road trip with than anyone else in the world. It still seems amazing to me that I have such a great group of friends, and that furthermore we all like doing the same stuff.

When I write this blog, I picture the core team as the people reading it. So, if you like this blog, chances are you’d like the guys in the core team. I’m pretty sure my logic is flawed, yet I remain confident in my conclusion.

My Co-Workers

This will make your head explode, but it’s a true story.

A few months ago, my boss told me he had just finished working with our HR person to put a new policy into place: a “vacation donation” program. The idea is that employees can donate their vacation days to another employee.

As soon as this program was announced, employees throughout the company donated about three months worth of vacation days to me.

Wrap your mind around that, if you can. I still have a hard time grasping it, myself.

So: I’m thankful for a good job, for the kind and smart people I work with, a company culture that promotes generosity, and for a CEO that treats his employees like family.

You: My Blog Neighborhood

When Jodi flew out to help take care of my family for a few days, she did it using frequent-flier points gifted by one of you. When Lori flies out next month, she’ll be using frequent flier points from that same person.

When Susan rides in her wheelchair, I remember every time that it was a gift from one of you — an owner of a medical supplies store.

When I got the stair chair setup and the electric scooter, that was using money I got because you bought Fat Cyclist jerseys.

You have sent hundreds of cards. You have sent thousands of email messages.

You have offered to help in every way possible, and several that are not possible.

You have stuck with me as this blog has gone from silly to serious to occasionally desperate.

So, finally: I’m thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re in the U.S., or not.

PS: I didn’t plan it this way, but this year my gratitude list consists of nothing but people. So, if you feel like it, keep up the theme by leaving a comment describing someone you’re thankful for, and why.

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