Thanksgiving 2019—I’m a day late with this post, but Thanksgiving Day was busy and long, in a good—playing with grandchildren, eating way too much dinosaur meat and pie—way. I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I’m grateful to be writing this blog with no deadline—it’s OK to say thanks the day after Thanksgiving, I think. And this Thanksgiving, I can be full of gratitude for many things, but to me, two things that brighten my life stand out: Family and work.
He’s only 3, but he’s in a hurry to grow up and take on the world. At meals, he pauses regularly to stand by the table and indicate to us how tall he is growing. It wasn’t that long ago that he was the youngest grandson, but now in England he has a male cousin more than a year behind him, and in California, another cousin is on the verge of taking his first breath.
And I don’t value grandsons more than granddaughters—it’s proximity puts this young guy in front of my camera more often than his female and male cousins. So I’ll let his image stand in for the third generation:Family—siblings, cousins, children, grandchildren—we can be a prickly bunch, we tease and tussles and disagree, but there is a deep well of love there, too. So thanks for family.
My job can make me weary at times. I’ve a mountain of projects to try to get done during this Thanksgiving “break” as the end of the semester is coming. But even as I’m buried in student worksheets and papers, there is also so much to be grateful for. I had the good luck, partly due to a timely nudge from my sister Cate, to land a faculty position at a small Catholic college some 18 years ago.
And it continues to be wonderful. Just in the past fortnight, I’ve been able to participate in some delightful events at Mount Mercy University:
I saw a nursing faculty member give an interesting presentation on the health implications of modern agriculture. Some 70 percent of antibiotic use in the U.S., she said, is for livestock. It was a sobering and eye-opening presentation.
And then, on a recent Friday, several colleagues on the faculty reported on their summer research projects. One has written a book that is coming out in the spring. A math professor did things with numbers and charts that my youngest son would have to explain to me. A biology professor drilled into the mysteries revealed by chemical analysis of human teeth that are thousands of years old. One takeaway—apparently you can fly with a suitcase full of human jaws, even if you can’t take a decent sized bottle of shampoo.
Later, on that same Friday, my wife and I attended an Improv festival at Mount Mercy’s McAuley Theatre. MMU students, high school students and a visiting troupe from the University of Northern Iowa all reminded us of how energetic, bright and funny young people can be.
I’m glad to have been there, and thrilled that Karen, the staff member who leads the Improv group, is planning to bring the festival back next year.
So, I can be grateful for working at a place that keeps me in touch with young people and lets me labor to try to make some positive change in some of their lives. It’s a place that provides all kinds of mental diversions that help keep an old man curious and learning.
A loving wife, a large and active family, a job at a place with a mission I love …
Life is not perfect and has its share of heartaches and struggles, and mine is not perfect, either. But on the whole, it is darn good. All I can say is thanks.