Thank-you-post-itThe other day, my son, the baby, the newest college boy, invited me to spend the afternoon at the art museum. He wanted to see the “Art and Appetite” exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago.

(It’s wonderful.)

After we enjoyed the galleries, we decided to get a snack. Two men with paper cups sat in front of the restaurant and asked us for help. It is easy to walk by people with cups or signs. But on that day, we didn’t. The boy reached into his wallet for a dollar. I did the same. He said, “Sometimes, I forget that they’re people. But I don’t want to. I don’t ever want to look away.” He remembers that once, we weren’t so lucky.

Today, on Thanksgiving, and on many other days, I count my blessings. I remember the times when I felt desperate, when I had to depend on the kindness and generosity of others (mostly, my parents) to be able to put food on the table. There was a time when health was not a given. There were many times when I had to be strong enough to ask for help.

It’s not an easy thing to do.

It doesn’t just hurt the ego. It hurts the soul. To need help–to have to say out loud that you cannot do it alone–is frightening. And that fear gnaws at every ounce of us. I really only began my productive life when that time passed, when I felt safe.

Today, I write with gratitude:

For my parents, who helped me when we were going through tough times, who now celebrate my triumphs. And they don’t think they did anything above and beyond. They don’t ask for repayment. They don’t know that they’re heroes.

To my spouse, who provides my daily dose of support and enthusiasm. It’s great to be married to someone you love.

To my kids: you are all amazing. You make me proud. You have all overcome different hardships, and I celebrate your happiness and successes today and tomorrow. We are here for you.

To all our friends and extended family: thank you for celebrating with us, for making us laugh, for caring about us.

To my teachers and students, who continue to inspire me. You are my fairy godmothers, granting me wish after wish after wish.

I now live a privileged life, and I strive never to forget that. These days, I worry about things like art–how the words flow on a page–and if my characters are authentic. I think about religion and politics and I have enough time to watch TV and even go to the theater. There is money for retirement. I have a new idea for a book. There are events to look forward to.

I will never forget the years when I had to overcome hardships–when I couldn’t look forward–I wasn’t sure what I would see. Now I see so many possibilities. I am so lucky! I hope that this year, we can all strive to reach our goals and also help others–so that next year, they see possibilities, too.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

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