Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I had wanted to write a post each day in November about something for which I am thankful. After all, it is the month in which we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I haven't done a whole lot of writing about anything this month. So, instead of having shared 3o days of thanks with you, I am only able to share one with you today (and maybe one more tomorrow).

I will go ahead and warn you that I have always done a piss-poor job of expressing thanks and gratitude, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. As I’ve heard my father say many times about himself, “I can never quite get out of my mouth what’s in my heart.” Like father, like daughter.

This year, I am thankful for a couple named Gene and Betty.

If there are two people who have loved me unconditionally for the entire length of my existence it would be my parents. Where, oh where, would I be without them?

Having parents who, while knowing what a financial hardship it would create, decided that my mother should not work while I was in school was/is such a blessing. Of course, with only my father working we were what some would call poor, though I never knew it at the time and still have a hard time realizing we were.

The reason I never knew it was because our home was clean, my clothes were clean, there were always three good meals prepared (minus lunch on days when I was in school) which were eaten as a family at the table. And though they have a different house today, we still eat at that same table when mom cooks.

I know now that my parents were constantly making sacrifices so that my life would be good. They had to have been. I wonder at times what they gave up so that I could have braces and not feel embarrased by crooked teeth. Braces have never been cheap and my father has never been one to use a credit card, so one or both of them had to go without something.

I remember, too, all the times my father would wait around to take me to school on days when I didn't want to wait for the bus and my mother watching after me from the door of our house on days I decided I would wait at the corner to catch the bus.

Do you know how many kids don’t have this today, how many there are that actually go home and wonder if they’ll have something to eat or if there will be someone there when it’s time to go to bed or if there will be someone to get them up and ready for school in the morning? It was only when I became a teacher that I realized that not all children are blessed to have parents like mine.

For the first four years of my career I taught in a neighboring town. Driving to workl one day I passed a mobile home park which was within a quarter of a mile of our school. It was raining buckets, one of those icy cold rains. Standing at the corner of a trailer, soaked from head to toe, and without even a coat, was a little girl no more than five. My heart sank. I wanted to stop and get her but as a young, new teacher thought the better plan of action would be to hurry and alert the principal. She and the guidance counselor were at the child’s home within 3 or 4 minutes. The little girl was just waiting for the bus. Her mother? In bed asleep.

Later, as a third-grade teacher I would have my students take home a nightly folder and return it to a basket on my desk each morning. I cannot tell you how many folders absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke every morning. Now, Ill admit I am no fan of smoking but that is not the reason why it was like fingernails down a chalk board whenever I would do my daily folder check. Many of these same folders belonged to children whose pants or shirt sleeves were several inches too short, children who came to school in the dead of winter with no coat or socks, who rarely had a snack to eat at snack time, and so on and so on. To those responsible for these particular children's welfare, affording a carton of cigarettes was more important than whether or not their children were warm or clean or had clothes to fit.

As I said, it wasn't until I was grown that I was fully able to appreciate everything that was done for me throughout my childhood. So this year as always, I give thanks that I had, and still have, a Godly man and woman who realized what it meant to be parents, parents that put my needs ahead of their wants.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. I Timothy 5:8

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