11/18/2008

Things I Am Thankful For

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 1
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Nick, the narrator of Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, is given this advice by his father, and I think it is good advice for many of us to follow. You may recall that Nick is the sort of moral compass in that story, it is against his solid mid-western values that the various characters play out their little dramas; he is the judge of their performances, actions and motivations,and finds many of his friends and family lacking in their ethics.
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GFT is acutely aware that, in spite of some periods of stress and upheaval, she has had an overall marvelously charmed life. Every day I see students and children who wonder if there will be dinner on the table that night, who have no parents, or parents who mistreat them, or are unable to care for them as much as they would like, or are homeless, or suffer from unimaginable problems that make anything I have ever had to live through seem absolutely mild in comparison. I am reminded on an almost daily basis that "the problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed up world of ours", (Rick to Ilsa in "Casablanca"), and so on Thanksgiving, and most other days as well, I am extremely thankful for many things.
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(In no particular order)
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I am thankful that I have two beautiful, healthy, bright, handsome children. I spent years trying to get pregnant - had 5 surgeries to correct endometriosis and other gynecological issues, and went through 2 nightmarish pregnancies ( the 1st due to an abusive first husband, the 2nd due to health problems related to the pregnancy itself ; 2nd husband was very nurturing and helpful in that pregnancy). I had my kids relatively late in life, and for the longest time I never thought , as the years waned on, that I'd ever get pregnant or have a child of my own , at all. So I am always counting my blessings , every time I think of my kids - even when I am yelling at them for the awful things they did that moment . And I am grateful they are healthy, and hearty, and full of spunk and mischief. I have taught disabled students for over a decade, and while I care about them, I see how their parents have struggled to raise them as best they could, and what a long hard road their lives have taken.
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I am thankful for husband # 2, the hubster, for while he annoys me greatly a huge percentage of the time, he also makes me laugh, and for that reason alone I think I'll keep him. He is smart enough to never bore me - that is a difficult feat. He has given me a good life, overall; rich in family where I had little, full of holidays at the beach and interesting adventures both home and abroad, as we traverse our lives' journey together. I just wish he could remember to put the toilet seat down and finish the various home repair projects he has started.
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I am thankful that both hubster and I have good jobs, and to have a job that I don't hate.
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I am thankful that I live in a charming, pleasant, relatively stress-free, low-cost area of the country.
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I am thankful for books and newspapers,especially, that feed my mind and inform me of so many countless things.
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I am thankful for good weather -when I experience it.
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I am thankful for the many advantages I had as a child : middle to upper middle class upbringing; parents, who although flawed loved me as best they could, gave me all they could, including a first class education and many cultural opportunities, enough family money to ease some of life's troubles yet not so much as to make me jaded or careless with it.
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I am thankful for the Impressionsist and Renaissance artists, scultors, and painters.
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I am thankful for all my friends and family, without whom life would not be worth living.
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I am thankful my children do not have ADHD.
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I am thankful, every day, but am reminded of it more strongly when I travel abroad, that I live in a country where I can : vote freely ; voice my opinion without fear of reprisal, live /travel/go where I want; wear, shop, eat, hang out with whoever or whatever I want - what Norman Rockwell illustrated in his series of paintings, " the 4 freedoms",one of which is pictured above.

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