Month: November 2011

THANKSGIVING

Once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of that special time of year; a time when family and friends, many of whom will travel great distances, will gather together to re-connect, re-kindle, and to acknowledge and give thanks for those people and things that make our lives worthwhile.  This span of five weeks that begins with the observance of Thanksgiving and ends as we collectively sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to ring in the New Year, is indeed, traditionally or otherwise, a special time.

As I reflect back to the Thanksgivings of my youth, I see images of a humble existence at our house in West Medford, Massachusetts.  Our dining room was a rarely-used, unfamiliar place – unlike the kitchen, where we spent most of our waking moments as a family.  The dining room was more akin to a shrine, in that it was used only twice a year – on Thanksgiving and on Easter Sunday. For the rest of the year, it served as a pass-through to get from the hallway to the kitchen.  But on Thanksgiving, that drab, old room magically came to life! 

A neatly-folded tablecloth that emitted the pungent odor of mothballs was taken out of storage, washed, pressed, and spread over our dark, walnut table.  Dusty plates, drinking glasses, and silverware were removed from the cupboard and meticulously cleaned and symetrically arranged on the table. My mother complimented the setting by placing two tall candles in the middle of the table, thus creating a kind of ambience in the room that was conducive for a Thanksgiving gathering.

As a child, I never gave much thought to what Thanksgiving was really all about.  To me, it was simply a day that was full of eager anticipation that culminated in a form of culinary greed and over-indulgence, where I selfishly gorged myself with turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, vegetables, rolls, and margerine (no butter-too expensive).  I then washed it all down with a tall glass of apple cider.  Lest I forget that traditional bottle of Manischewitz Concord grape wine that graced the table (the only time we kids were allowed to sip alcohol).

And then came dessert…I couldn’t possibly survive the evening without wolfing down a slice each of apple, sweet potato, mince, lemon meringue, and blueberry pie, now could I?  To make matters worse, I had the nerve to top each slice with a scoop of ice cream…ala mode times 5.  After all of that, I had the audacity to wonder why I got sick!

At 50+ years of age, my perspective of what Thanksgiving should be is now tempered by humility and understanding.  I am deeply thankful for my life, first and foremost, and for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.  If there ever comes a time when I feel that I need more of something, or that I am entitled to more of something else, all I need to do is open my eyes and take a look around.  When I do, I see tens of thousands of people in this country who are without a job; who have either lost their home to foreclosure or are about to.  I see homeless individuals living on the streets; I see a mother, alone, holding her crying baby which she is unable to feed.  I see families with no place to call home, existing day to day with barely enough to scrape by. 

Yes, this is indeed a time of thanksgiving.  And when I look at my station in life, and the fact that I live a fairly simple lifestyle (no, I’m not rich or afflent – far from it!), I am thankful for having good health, a loving family, good friends, gainful employment, a home, food to eat, a car to drive, and the basic necessities of life.  Some of you might think that I’m being cavalier or that I’m just easy to please, but I don’t believe that for one minute.  In fact, I’m rich beyond measure.  Who said that richness can only be measured by dollars alone? 

I am thankful for all of you who have taken the time to read my blog, and for those who have made the effort to reach out and communicate with me to offer a thought, a response, a concurrance, or disagreement.  Each of you are a catalyst; you stimulate my mind by engaging in thought-provoking exchanges that facilitates a fulfilling blogging experience…and for that I thank you!

Last, but not least, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the men and women in uniform, who are unable to be with their loved ones during this Holiday Season.  It is because of them that we enjoy many freedoms, which in and of itself, is much to be thankful for.

I wish all of you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Be well, stay safe, and always be thankful.

Sincerely,

Kevin

Did You Forget to Say: ‘I Love You?’

When did you last say ‘I Love You’ to your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, or close friend?  As I pondered this question one day, it occurred to me that my reasons for asking this of myself was a direct result of my own inadequacies and oversights.  Perhaps it was guilt; perhaps not.         

We live in a world that is fraught with endless external stimuli that demands our undivided attention, bombarding us with 24-hour information overload that feeds the insatiable desire to conquer the next milestone.  That big promotion, or winning that elusive prize that we had our eyes on, or gaining the respect of our peers through hard work and determination are but a few of the countless culprits that has the potential to separate us from people and things that have true meaning in our lives.

We are so preoccupied with being at the top of our game and accumulating material possessions and wealth, that those things that are truly of substance and intrinsic value are, over time, gradually diminished to the point of being obscure  or non-existent.     

The natural instinct to survive and to provide, and all that is necessary to ensure that our families have a roof over our heads, enough food on the table, and adqequate clothing on our backs, sometimes causes us to take many things for granted.  How many times, during the course of our daily lives, did we fail to take a moment to tell someone that we love them and that we appreciate them for being a part of our lives? 

I have experienced feelings of regret when I failed to say those three simple, but powerful words to loved ones when I had the opportunity to do so.  And from those experiences, I share my epiphany with you: 

This life, which is but a microcosm in time, is fleeting – it can be snatched away in an instant.  When I leave home each morning to delve into my workaday activities, there is no guarantee that either I, or my wife will return that evening; or that the person I hold dear will be home when I stop by for a visit; or that they will answer the phone when I call to say hello.  It is because of this that I humbly offer the following advice.   

Take those few precious moments to tell someone how you feel; that they are special and that their existence has had a profound effect on your life.

Never forget to say… ‘I Love You.’

 

Change…

When I was young, I used to always hear adults discussing certain aspect of life.  And although the vast majority of those conversations were beyond the ability of my young, inquisitive mind to comprehend, I quietly listened to the exchanges from afar to see if there might be a nugget of wisdom that I could extract from those verbal volleys. 

Then one day, during what I dismissed as being just another routine diatribe between two grown-ups, something within me clicked when I heard the word ‘Change’.  It was almost as if a switch had been thrown deep within my psyche; an immutable moment in time when the usually meaningless babble that I repeatedly overheard somehow made sense.

Throughout life, I have often contemplated the word; change.  And in doing so, I would ask myself why is it that Humans are described as being creatures of habit when nothing in this world remains the same?  We like to follow a schedule or a daily routine; we rise each morning at a certain time and expect to have our meals placed before us at another.  Most activities that we engage in are dictated either by the clock or by the calendar. 

It seems as though we derive a certain sense of comfort by being able to predict what’s going to occur next, yet we are almost never able to do so.  I find it interesting that for all we want to know about life-events, we do not wish to know when our own mortality will be at hand.  We don’t want the good times to end, or those wonderful feelings of elation to subside.  We grow up, become educated, secure gainful employment; some get married and raise families. Others drift through life upon the winds of fate.  No matter what course you take, you can bet that things will always change. 

It has often been stated, and I definitely concur, that the only constant in this life is change; that’s the one thing that can be predicted with 100% certainty.  How one chooses to embrace this omni-present state of flux, or not, is a simple proposition: You can choose go with it and live a life that is full and exciting, or you can attempt to view it as something that can be postponed or avoided altogether, which is comparable to locking yourself in a room with no windows or doors and thinking that nothing is happening in the world – that time has stood still; that the earth has stopped rotating, or that day has ceased to follow night and that night no longer precedes day. Not a very logical stream of thought, and most certainly unattainable.

Personally, I have chosen to ride the wave of change with an open mind and optimistic heart.  One never knows what lies ahead or around that next bend in the road; but one thing I do know is that the road ahead is guaranteed to be unlike the one just traveled. 

I believe that change is good; something to be accepted and embraced. 

How about you?