Giving Thanks

It’s the perennial moment in our nation’s history where we sit back from the table and loosen our belts from all the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, insert your family’s traditional food here, and roll gently toward the media glow box to feast on football.  Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, which, it turns out may or may not be the anniversary of the Pilgrims’ survival of the first winter in the New World.  Regardless, it is a time when we gather with friends and family and offer thanks for all the blessings that we’ve received.

I’m thankful for my wife, who puts up with my incessant punnery, my goofy nonsense, and my consistent procrastination all with a minimum of eyerolling.  She is, quite simply, the most wonderful woman a guy could ever marry and she’s my best friend.

I’m thankful for my daughter who, with every step she takes, invites me to share in her world.  Each new day is an exciting new look into things we, as adults, overlook and it provides new challenges and opportunities for her to grow into an amazing human being.  She is the most beautiful, loving, intelligent little girl I’ve ever known.

I’m thankful for my family because they are ever present even when I don’t call or visit.  I know that I can reach out at any time and share joys or pain and they will be there.  They are a constant source of love and support that can not be underestimated.

I’m thankful for friends who lend an ear, a hand, or a smile just when I need it.  We don’t see each other nearly as often as we used to…we also don’t drink as much as we used to either…but we are still a part of each others’ lives.

I’m thankful for my job, particularly when so many don’t have one.  I’m also thankful that I love my job so much.  It is quite exciting to be a part of a team that really has a goal in mind and is achieving that goal on a regular basis.  It’s also a lot of fun to be around so many intelligent and interesting students who are working hard to achieve that goal.

I’m thankful for my home, again, when so many are losing theirs.  As with most homes, there are things I’d love to have different, but it has a certain charm and it manages to provide a safe, warm, environment for those who live here and for those who visit.

Finally, I’m thankful for my health and for the health of those I love.  We may complain from time to time of a cough, or allergies, or what have you, but to be generally healthy is a good percentage of being happy and I’m thankful for it.

Have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are and whoever you share it with.  If you’re unable to share it with people you love, please share it with someone who may not have as much as you.

See you in the funny papers!

Happy New Year!

Wow…nearly 4 days in and I’m just now posting.  Some habits are hard to break and don’t even get me started on resolutions!  So, since I’m already behind, let me get you caught up.

  1. The holidays were great.  There was very little stress actually, but IvyCat managed to attract some sort of evil virus just before Christmas.  Then our little Typhoid Mary managed to spread it to everyone but me.  So, my two weeks of vacation have been spent sort of managing health care for both C. and IvyCat, which is no mean feat considering the following a) IvyCat is too young to really receive any treatment, not that there was any and b) since C. was still nursing, she wasn’t able to take any real medicine either.  Not to mention, I really despise snot.  So when your wife is running through tissues faster than you can open the box and your 8-month old Aside: Eight MONTHS?  I know, can you believe it?  It’s gone by so fast! has a nose that just drains the mucus like a faucet, well, you can imagine my excitement.  But, back to the holidays…they really were very stress-free and had they also been illness-free, they might have been very, very enjoyable.
  2. The big deal for the holidays is always the intrastate rivalry between the UofL Cardinals and the UK Wildcats.  Those of you who are not from here probably have your own rivalry, and I’m sure it’s intense and all…but here in Kentucky, we know how to do rivalry.  You’ve heard of the Hatfields and McCoys.  Well, there were 6 fouls in the first 45 seconds of this game and no one had even scored a point yet.  There are professional hockey players that would do well to steer clear of this annual event.  Now then, my beloved Cardinals were on the short end of the 71-62 score, but not before making the undefeated Cats look fairly tame in the second half…and surely if they’d shot better than 17 percent in the first half, the score might’ve been a little different.  I will say this though, this UK team, unfortunately, looks like another of Calipari’s Thug Life squads that have sprung up like toadstools after a bad rain in the wake of this particular coaches sweep through the Division I ranks.  There was quite a bit of “goon” action in the early going.  I’m not making excuses for our poor execution, there was certainly an ugliness to our play in the first half, but we failed to resort to violence…at least as far as I could tell.
  3. I’m currently in a training program to complete my very first full marathon.  That’s FULL as in all 26.2 miles.  That’s roughly…4,614.5 trips from my couch to my fridge…or more than 1.6 million quarters laid side by side, which would equal more than $100,000.  There are some who say I’m crazy for attempting such a thing…there are some who say I’m crazy for even dreaming up the attempt, but it’s a new goal to be conquered and I’m well on the way.  I’m going to do my best to keep you apprised of my goal with the following graphic:

    As you can see from the graph, my training is going fairly well and I’m looking forward to competing in the Nashville Country Music Marathon in April.  Oh, and if you should find yourself with an 8-month old who is having trouble sleeping through the night, and you find yourself tagged with a pesky sinus issue that doesn’t want to go away, AND you’re also training for  a marathon through all of this…whatever you do, DO NOT give blood and expect everything to go on smoothly.  You see that gap between 12/29 and 1/2…yeah, there should’ve been another green stripe there…oh, and that green stripe on 1/2, yeah, that should’ve been taller.  Hopefully, this coming week I will have recouped a bit of that pint I gave away and training will go a little bit better.

    Finally, there’s good news in the business and economics portion of my life.  I’ve accepted a new position at the university where I work.  I’ll hopefully be starting there in a couple of weeks, provided all the paperwork goes through.  I’d tell you all about it, but I have a rule about blogging about work which is: Don’t Blog About Work!  Sufficed to say, I’m looking forward to the new position.  It’s similar to my old position, but provides a new working atmosphere and a different program mission.  All in all, a fresh start to the new year!

    See you in the funny papers!

O Come All Ye Faithful

When I started dating my wife, I acclimated to a tradition of her family by venturing out into the wilds of Indiana and selecting a fresh Christmas tree, cutting it down and dragging it home to decorate.  Previous to this, I had merely pulled out the dusty tree from a box in the closet and placed it in the corner, but now, here was a new exciting part of the holiday that felt exotic and exhilarating.  There is truly something invigorating about wandering in a field in the cold, crisp weather and breathing in that beautiful pine scent; the sharp odor of fresh cut wood.  I really enjoy the moments outdoors selecting our tree.

All of this is to say that yesterday, we went out again into the cold with our daughter and C.’s mom and dad and we chose our tree and it was, yet again, a serene experience to be in the company of family, participating in an old-fashioned tradition, and enjoying the beginnings of our holiday season.  Also, part of this tradition is the listening to Christmas music, particularly John Denver and the Muppets, but several other Christmas CDs as well, which leads me to my minor “conversion” moment this morning on the way to church. Notre Dame Cathedral

Now, one would think if I were already headed to church, I wouldn’t have needed a conversion moment.  And, I don’t want to alienate anyone who thinks I’ve jumped on the “crazy Christian” bandwagon, because that wouldn’t be an accurate account either.  Truth is, I attend church for a lot of reasons…one is that it’s a job, I get paid to sing.  Second, the community that is shared among the group of friends at our church is really second to none.  We, my wife and I, really enjoy the friendships we’ve made at church.  But, the main reason I attend church is that I don’t have all the answers and, honestly, there’s quite a bit of doubt.  I AM the “Thomas the Apostle” for my generation.  Still, there are clear and shining moments wherein the voice of God breaks through the cloud of mystery and doubt and floods my heart and mind.  This morning, I was going to change the cd in the stereo because we’d listened to it at least 3 or 4 times yesterday during various trips across the county, but I left it in because I wanted to hear Earl Scruggs play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.  Well, a few songs later, Patty Loveless began her version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and that is the moment that it made sense to me:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

It was an invitation; an invitation to be a part of a season, a tradition.  Sure, it specifies the faithful, but also the joyful and the triumphant.  I would venture to say that it was also an invitation to the doubtful, the disheartened and the downtrodden.  I felt a part of the faithful, not necessarily the believers, but those who have faith, however shaky it might be, that there is good and purpose in the world.  And, we’re invited to share in a community with other faithful.  I’d like to propose that the comma in that opening line is maybe premature.  Maybe, instead, it should read:

O Come All, Ye Faithful

So, during this season of Advent Aside: for those of you who didn’t go to church this morning, Advent is the season of preparation that precedes Christmas.  You won’t find it in the Hallmark card section as it goes largely unnoticed by the general populace. as we prepare for our Christmas traditions with fresh or dusty trees, fresh or dusty faiths, I’d like to believe that we’ve all been invited to attend, to celebrate in the joy of this season.

Finally, in keeping with Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 challenge, today’s “Best of” is workshop or conference.  I don’t attend many workshops or conferences.  My job is not such that it’s necessary, however, this year I did attend a marriage retreat that might fall into this category.  My wife and I, as part of the aforementioned church, journeyed down to the All Saints Conference Center in Leitchfield, KY for a short marriage retreat.  We truly enjoyed the retreat and were able to further solidify our marriage by recognizing that we share many of the same constructs for making our marriage work smoothly and joyfully with a minimum of distraction and discord.  It was a very nice weekend and I feel like it strengthened our marriage.  So, even though it’s the only one, I’d say it was the best one of 2009.

See you in the funny papers!

Happy Thanksgiving

Ordinarily, I’m not really that big a fan of Thanksgiving.  It’s just too much…too much family, too much food, too much noise.  In past years, I’ve always wanted to simply avoid the holiday completely and not be involved.  I’d prefer to simply sit silently in a corner somewhere and ignore the commotion.  Unfortunately, that was pretty much NEVER an option.  However, the last couple of years have slowly been turning the tide on my curmudgeonly ways.  Last year, as you may remember, we were blessed with family in Flagstaff and a wonderful meal to share.  This year, we’re spending the big day in Knoxville with family and by most advance signs, it promises to be yet another wonderful day. 

Last night, we relaxed by an outdoor fire beneath a beautiful starry sky.  This morning, after a wonderful evening of sleep, my daughter and I sat down to start our own tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Unfortunately, she did not share my desire to engage in this tradition and after being fussy for a few minutes, she decided to spend her parade time passed out in her bed.  Well, she is a little young to really enjoy the parade, so I’m hoping that maybe in a couple of years, we can really settle into this particular tradition.  As it is, our hosts, N. and H. have made everything perfect and the magnificent meals continue to appear as if by magic.

So, it seems that, slowly, I’m becoming more involved in the holiday spirit.  This can’t be all bad.  It would be nice to enjoy the holidays for a change.  But let’s not jump the gun…Christmas is the true test.  This is usually the downer of the holiday season…but I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be a different year as well.

See you in the funny papers!