As the holiday season kicks-off with Thanksgiving this week, most folks look ahead to focus on the three upcoming winter holidays, Christmas, Channukah and Kwanzaa. However, I am of the mind that perhaps we might be better off by first looking back “over our shoulders,” to see what we should be thankful for.
For our family, the last month has been harrowing for us. A very dear friend of over thirty years, took seriously ill and passed one and a half weeks ago. Her late husband, who passed away in 2016 was one of my best friends. Losing him and now his wife cut very deeply in our family. And I officiated at both funerals. And, I had people shed happy tears.
Over two decades ago, when asked to officiate at numerous Jewish funerals, I decided that there was no need to review the recent time when the person was seriously ill and not their normal self. Instead, as I explain to each family, we will talk about all the good times, the funny jokes, the not-so-funny jokes, and all the wonderful traits of the loved one. What jokes made them laugh and which of their jokes made us laugh. Stories of vacation, family quirks, travels, favorites, etc. We make this service a Celebration of Life.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we need to turn our heads over our shoulders and look at everything we should be grateful for, from last Thanksgiving to this year’s holiday. Sure, we all had some crappy things occur of the past year; some we even tragic. However, it is incumbent upon us to teach and share with our families, that even with difficult times, there is still good in the world and in our lives. We just need to strengthen our emotional selves so that we can see beyond the sadness and see all that we can and should be grateful that also transpired in the past year. And for the majority of folks, there is usually much more to be grateful for than to bemoan.
For me, nearly three years later I am able to be grateful for the fact that I have found a couple of physicians who were able to determine why and with what I was so sick with back at the end of 2020. It turns out to be two auto-immune disorders. One affects my thyroid (which I am much, much better thanks to one little pill) and another called, “Raynaud’s Syndrome.” It somehow messes with the hypothalamus organ, which is a tiny, almond-sized gland beneath the brain. One of its prime functions is to regulate body temperature as well as how we react to different temperatures. In my case, my tolerances are all messed up – I am hyper-sensitive to cooler and cold temps (even the breeze from a slow-turning ceiling fan can give me a chill, even if the ambient temperature in the room is 80o! And living in South Florida with often very warm temperatures that lead to lots of air conditioning, it is not uncommon to see me wear a couple of layers of t-shirts, as well as a jacket when I have to visit a doctor’s office or even go out to eat! And all of this on top of debilitating back injuries and very old and often-operated-on knees! So, I should be a mess, right? WRONG!
True, I have my “tough days,” most of which are due to the extreme lethargy created by issues with Raynaud’s. But I have good days, too! And as of late, my good days are surpassing the tough ones! But there is more!
I am the middle of three brothers. When our folks were living in the Greater Boston area, my older brother and I had jobs that took us out of our “home base,” living as far west as St. Louis MO, as far north as Syracuse NY and as far south as North Carolina and Florida. Only our younger brother remained in the Boston area. We knew it was difficult for our parents, but it was a livelihoods.
One of the things that I am thankful for is that both our daughters now live within two miles of our home. That means, our grandson is but a five-minute drive away. And I am so grateful for this. Even on my worst day, the smile of our 2-1/2-year-old grandson makes me feel better….much better. Knowing our younger daughter and son-in-law are so close is a blessing. Our older daughter moved home last year when she got a new job and it was much easier for her to move into her old room than paying exorbitant rents. Once the market settles some more, she will find an apartment or condo. But for now, we are very grateful.
I am grateful for the wonderful men and women of the fire service, both in the U.S. and in Canada, whom I have had the pleasure to meet through our podcast, “5-Alarm Task Force.” Many of these guests, even though we have never met in person, have become close friends and mentors.
I am grateful to live in a wonderful country. Sure, we have our problems, but that does not mean we “throw the baby out with the bath water.” If you care about this country, we have to finds ways to respect others’ opinions, but to always strive to see a middle ground so that we can come together to improve the troubling issues. If an outside force attacks this country, are we going to sit around for 3-4 weeks to complain about what they are doing or are we going to unite and defend our country?
Our late parents taught the three of us that we have more in common with our neighbors and townsfolk than our differences. When one house begins to burn, do we not want to be sure that our neighbors are safe and the fire department is on its way?
While we may not agree on every issue or with every politician, that does not mean we cannot agree to disagree; we do not have to accept the person’s opinion, but we will fight to defend their right to have an opinion!
And let’s remember…the wonderful and dedicated men and women of the fire service, law enforcement, EMS, Road Rangers and Tow Operators do not judge you by your opinions when you need them for your emergency. They will answer every call!
Have a Safe and Enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday from all of us at 5-Alarm Task Force Corp.
Founder & President of 5-Alarm Task Force Corp. and Creator & Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.