In my office every year, there's a "Giving Tree" that has paper ornaments with wishes for gifts from children at a local shelter. The kids are as young as 1 year old and as old as 17, and the gifts range from a winter coat to blocks. Every year I go up and read the tags and try to pick just one, and end up with 3-4. And I always feel like it's not enough.
My heart literally breaks when I see the things that these kids ask for. Many are from broken homes, their young lives torn apart by parents, family members and guardians consumed by drugs, alcohol, abuse, violence... all the things that no child should ever have to experience, yet so many do.
I wish that these children -- or anyone -- never had to deal with these types of things, these horrors and abuses that force them out of the world of a child into one that is far crueler, far more desperate and far more dangerous than I have ever known.
But they do. And if a winter coat or set of blocks or toy kitchen or a Dora doll can provide these kids with a brief light, a small measure of hope, in what has been a hard life, then it's worth the sacrifice of a few dollars.
In this season of thanks, I am thankful that my parents raised me in a home where -- even if we couldn't have everything we wanted -- we had more than we need: shelter, food, clothes, and most importantly love and support. Showing me what a strong, vital marriage is -- hard work and selflessness mixed with equal parts passion and humor -- gave me the faith to believe that I find that, too,
I am thankful that I have two brothers who, being fathers and husbands themselves, taught me that being a good husband
and good father doesn't mean "giving in" to your spouse or "sacrificing
your life." Instead, it means taking a leap of faith that giving
yourself over to your wife and children will bring you so much more than
you could ever have alone.
I am thankful that I have friends who know how vain, moody, and/or strange I can be... and still stand by me.
I am thankful that I have my amazing, kind, supportive and incredibly beautiful wife, who shows me every day what love is and what it can be, and how giving in to that love and returning it can bring you a happiness that is impossible to describe.
I am thankful that I have a happy, healthy, growing daughter who has taught me more about myself and the world I live in than any college course could ever do, challenging me to be a better man and make the world a better place.
But I am most thankful that I have been given so many blessings -- health, family, friends, love and security -- that many don't have. I am humbled by these gifts, and eternally grateful for all that I have.
Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you and your loved ones.