Have you had one of those years? I have. Probably the most difficult year I’ve ever survived.
On the personal side, losing my Mom last October began a series of difficult times and decisions I never dreamed I’d be making, let alone doing. Were some of them good? Sure, but none were easy. Family decisions tend to be that way. But I’m thankful I was there to do what needed doing, even on the days I want to disappear.
On the professional side, as a country we have become more and more divided due to a surprising, contentious election. Even here in Mesa County, the last election was supposed to be about public safety and our school children. The election drove folks to stop talking and fight over government roles that should be a given, yet government proves time and again it’s incapable of doing at even modest levels. I’m thankful we voted to do the right thing on both issues, even though I now watch with trepidation at the people in charge of the taxes we gave them with much hope things will be done right.
But every year at this time I actually do one of the steps for happiness that books, motivational speakers, pastors and happy people have told me to do over my 50 plus years on this orb. And that is to count my blessings and reflect with gratitude for all I have. That’s true whether you believe in the creator, nature’s god, no god or every god. Gratitude works. As my attitude I’m sure will show once the final period is dropped at the end of my 900 words today.
I’ve always truly loved Thanksgiving. Always. More so than even Christmas, and I love Christmas. That’s not an easy thing to say from a guy who spent more than half his professional life in retail. Then again, my retail career goes back to a time where stores weren’t open 24/7 for every moment since before we put the turkey in to overcook. I came from a much simpler time.
It was a time where stores would open for the four or five Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Where people you’d known for years would come in and shop for their families for special gifts for people you actually knew by name and face, not by Snapchat or Twitter handles. Thanksgiving meant we were going to the Vogel’s (family best friends for more than six decades now) house or they were coming to ours for a day of festivities and football, both in the house and in the backyard, And the only girl, Paula, would happily tackle any one of the other seven boys playing the game of the year. A time when my old boss, Chuck, would bring in Jewish deli food on those Sundays at Diamond Mens’ Wear and we’d eat corned beef and pickles and salads (the only other time I got them was after visiting Mom’s family in New Jersey when Great Aunt Jean would load up the cooler for our drive home) while watching football on a black and white TV and waiting on friends and carrying their purchases out to their car for tips that went to hot chocolate.
Sounds corny, doesn’t it? But that’s what made Thanksgiving for me. Well, and the occasion my birthday would fall on it and I’d get Mom’s double layer chocolate cake with her special icing added into my over-abundance of pumpkin and pecan pie for the day. Those kinds of days are difficult to replicate as time passes, and the gratitude I have for those memories gets a little harder to recall from the memory banks as my own life complicates more and more each year. Which is all the more reason to write about them today.
I recently had an old girlfriend (yes, I can write that, she’s a confident realist) from the suburbs north of Detroit swing through Grand Junction from a camera club trip she took to Moab. And even though a complication in my life prevented me from meeting up with her on the day we hoped we could, on the way back to our airport she had lunch downtown and we messaged (a time where this messaging thing is a good thing) for an hour or two. She remarked about what a beautiful town we have. She’s right. We do. In spite of the differences the past year has brought.
That’s what Grand Junction reminds me of: my hometown. I forget that all too often in this day and age when we don’t have neighborhood football games, we shop online and we message instead of waiting for our turn on the “kids’ phone.” That is where we lose so much thankfulness and gratitude these days: We don’t see one another face to face. And. my friends, a few dozen key strokes doesn’t cut it when it comes to the interpersonal relationships we desire by our very nature.
So while I give thanks for my advertisers, readers and all the folks who supply the stories to make the Business Times a truly hometown paper, I’m going to build my gratitude by actually seeing the people who’ve helped me become part of this great community over the coming year — regardless of sides or opinions. Selling and stories and life itself are about people.
And without people, there can be no Thanksgiving.