By Andy Young
Special to The Windham Eagle
By any reckoning, 2020 has been a terribly trying year. But Thanksgiving isn’t for reflecting on life’s imperfections; it’s for consciously acknowledging what we’re truly thankful for. I try to keep that in mind when listing the multiple factors, tangible and abstract, that I truly appreciate not just this week, but every day of the year. Pandemic-related travel restrictions altered our large extended family’s traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner this year, but the fact we were able to hold it electronically is yet another blessing to count.
I’m thankful for having a loving and healthy family, a meaningful job I truly like, and being allotted 600 words with which I can publicly express my gratitude.
I’m thankful for my car that gets 55 miles per gallon, for reduced-sodium vegetable juice, and for my son’s cooking.
I’m thankful for memories of past Thanksgivings at my grandparents’ house, which included visits with Chief Squanto (my peace-pipe-smoking, blanket-clad grandfather); turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, pearled onions, plus my mom’s apple pie for dessert; watching some team beat the Detroit Lions; and turkey soup and sandwiches that night. I’m also grateful for parents who didn’t make us eat those nasty turnips Uncle Eddie insisted on having every year.
I’m thankful for the three-person interviewing team at Kennebunk High School who, individually and collectively, took a chance on a 44-year-old novice English teacher who applied for a job there nineteen years ago.
I’m thankful for dried apricots, stewed tomatoes, and anything written by David Halberstam or Carl Hiaasen.
I’m thankful for my house that’s warm in the winter, but cool in the summer.
I’m thankful I live where I’ll never step on a fire ant or a poisonous snake while walking barefoot. I’m also thankful for having the good sense not to walk barefoot outside!
I’m thankful for all the wordless smiles I’ve shared with people I’ve never seen before, and likely won’t ever see again.
I’m thankful for neighbors I can talk and laugh with, used bookstores (as opposed to used bookstores; who wants to buy an old store?), and fresh spinach.
I’m thankful for every word of encouragement I’ve ever gotten from friends, colleagues, or total strangers.
I’m thankful every time I hear someone, but particularly a young person, say “please” or “thank you.”
I’m thankful for my children’s past, current, and future great teachers.
I’m thankful for students who stop by after school not to angle for a higher grade, but because they truly want to improve their literacy skills.
I’m thankful for cold milk, bike rides, and curbside recycling.
I’m thankful for individuals who sincerely enjoy my attempts at humor, even on those rare occasions when I’m not really all that funny.
I’m thankful for friends and relatives who write, call, e-mail, or invite me to dinner every so often just because.
I’m thankful for having a sister who found the ruins of the long-lost baseball quilt our grandmother hand-made for me over five decades ago, quietly had it reconditioned, and presented it to me years after I had thought it was gone forever.
I’m thankful for having a brother whose phone calls never come at inconvenient moments, even though he lives 12 time zones away.
I’m thankful for garden-fresh cherry tomatoes, raw almonds, and You Tube videos of the Smothers Brothers.
I’m thankful I still have the copy of Go Dog Go that says “Merry Christmas, 1963” in my mom’s handwriting inside the front cover.
But I’m most thankful for learning while constructing this essay that when it comes to counting my blessings, 600 words aren’t even close to being enough. <