Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Time of Thanks

This is the traditional time of year that we all look back over the last year in order to take into account what we have to be thankful for.  Most of the time for many of us, we like to look over our treasures, both little and large, to gauge just how well the year was for us.  But I would like to reflect over the next few moments at something a little different than goods and services that may have in some way improved our lives.

This has been a year of remarkable swings in the fortunes of the families that I am honored to be a part of.

The year began as any other year might.  All were filled with hope and anticipation that 2010 would be at least a little better and kinder than 2009.  However, as the time moved forward, things took a turn for the worse for my wife's family.  Their father, Lloyd Smith, was diagnosed with severe heart problems and operated on in the early days of March.  He came through the surgery without any problems, but soon after surgery, he lapsed into a state of unconsciousness that ended, sadly, on April 9.  The giant of the family had gone home.

On my side of the family, however, 2010 brought the hope of new life and the future.  On September 11, 2010, our fourth granddaughter was born to my son Josh and his wife Melissa.  What a blessed event it is to see new life ushered into our midst!  Their family, three girls along with mom and dad, have much to be thankful for.  About a month later, in mid-October, my other son, Josh's twin, welcomed into this world the first King grandson.  Again, new life brought forth new hope.

And there were the minor, almost unnoticed details that make up a bulk of the time of a man's life.  Good and bad, they constitute living and living is far better than not being at all. 

This year has been a treasure in so many ways.  Through the tragedy of the spring, I saw, and was a part, of a family drawing closer together as they bid their father farewell.  It was heart wrenching to see the sadness and grief on their faces as they lay to rest their parent.  But Lloyd would have liked the outcome.  He would have liked the fact that all came together in a celebration of his life as they remember the myriad of stories recalled during the funeral.  There was far more laughter and nostalgia during those few days of mourning than there were tears.  The fabric of the family was not torn nor was it weakened.  Rather, it was strengthened and made anew with the memory of a beloved mother and father as the centerpiece of the life of the siblings.

Through the joy of the fall, I witnessed the hope of new life.  I saw the future burn bright for young families who are the building blocks of our destiny.  The smiles of newborns are hard to resist because they dispel the darkness in one split second and somehow, the world doesn't seem such a lonely and cold place in which to live.  The hope of a future filled with promise and excitement looms before this family and life, energetic, exuberant life, charges forward.  And through it all, our spark of life is renewed and rekindled.

And then the treasure of a spouse who you do not know what you would do without comes to mind.  Joan is not only my spouse but my friend, my confidant.  She, too, gives life and energy to me and makes me understand the important things in life.  She is my heart and soul and life is simply unthinkable without her.

So as we gather around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, regardless of whether that table is a magnificent tribute to the bounty that we have been blessed with, or whether that table is a humble offering of the love reflected in the family gathered to give thanks despite its meager contents, may we not forget to pause and give thanks for one another.  Then, in the end, but certainly not last, may we remember to give thanks to God for all His blessings large and small.  As Archbishop Fulton J Sheen once said, "Life is worth living!"   May we always live it to the fullest filled with thanks each and every day for the people in our lives who help to make us who we are. 

Happy Thanksgiving!