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Giving Thanks Before Thanksgiving

Last night I found myself getting stressed out about the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving. My wife will most likely be away from the house for many of the days leading up to the big turkey day so I found myself getting flustered and nervous about how I was going to get everything done while having Number 1 and Number 3 home as well. What should I do with the kids when they are home? How big of a turkey do we need to buy(changed my mind on that 3 times in the span of an hour)? What about my honey-do list that I haven’t made much progress on? Do I really need to clean the house…I mean, I have to also clean the house!

After about an hour of this crazy train leaving the station I had a revelation and as Number 3 will often say to me, “Dad, check yourself!” Which I did and immediately my perspective changed. I decided that since it is almost Thanksgiving, I needed to be thankful and not worry about the little things because at the end of the day, most of what I was worrying about, no one else cares about. So this week, I am writing about the 10 things I am thankful for.

10. I am thankful for my van, named The Swagger Wagon! It is quickly approaching 200,000 miles and going strong. The van has driven many times to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to sunny California, to the heart of Texas and all over Omaha. It has been the taxi to many soccer games, baseball games, dance competitions, grocery store runs and even been used for Truck or Treat at church. There are many great memories in this vehicle. I guess you could say, our kids have grown up in this van. Maybe that’s a bit sappy for some, but it has been a staple in our lives for over 8 years now. This week we just upgraded vehicles and The Swagger Wagon will soon be retired. I am thankful for all the trips, conversations and memories that were made inside it as a family.

9. I am thankful that I get to live in this great country. With all the political strife right now and all the back and forth between the parties, it is easy to get caught up in your own view on things. Do I like everything that is going on politically or socially in this country? Absolutely not. Would I like to live in another country? No way. The opportunities available here are unmatched anywhere else in the world. Knowing that we have the greatest military in the world is also so reassuring that my family will always be protected. Sometimes, I take for granted that I live in the USA, so today I want to give thanks that myself and my family get to live in the greatest country on this Earth.

8. I am thankful for realizing that everyone has their own demons they are fighting. I am not saying that I want others to suffer, I am just saying that it helps me to not put others on some lofty pedestal that is unrealistic. How many of you have said, “oh I wish I could look like him or I wish I could dress like her”? Well I know I constantly compare everything I have and everything I am to others around me. It is only recently that I have begun to realize that we are all flawed in some way and we are all trying to keep up with others in terms of looks, money, possessions or success. Facebook is great for showing the best of everyone and makes comparisons so easy. Try to change your perspective on this and it will change your life.

7. I am thankful that for the most part, I am healthy. I have been able to cut some weight, eat a few more vegetables and drink some more water. Other than wearing glasses all the time and having some knee pain, I feel pretty good. I know many that are in worse shape than me and that is encouraging.

6. I am thankful for the friends that are in my life. There are many that I don’t talk with very often mainly because of distance but when we get together, I feel like we pick up right where we left off. It’s also nice to have good friends close by to drop in to talk with or have dinner together. I have some good friends at work as well which keeps my days moving in the right direction. I am definitely an introvert but I do have to admit I like to be around my friends. I can be myself and that is what it is about.

5. I am thankful for my extended family. With all of our schedules and distance in between, it is really difficult to schedule time when we can all be together but we usually manage a few times a year to see each other. Whether we are playing a family game around a big table or doing something social together outdoors, we always find a way to have fun and make great memories. I can really be myself when I am around them and I know I am loved.

4. I am thankful for my dogs. I don’t always like what they do but I always love them. We lost our first dog this summer and it hit me as hard as losing my mom around the same time. She was such a faithful companion and was always there unconditionally no matter how I was feeling, I could always count on her love and affection. I trained her from a pup and although my wife says she was Koko’s favorite, I will always believe it was me. Now we have our two younger, smaller dogs left and while things are a little different with them, they follow me wherever I go and I always know at the end of the night, I will find them at the end of our bed just waiting for me to go to sleep and then crawl all over me before settling into the smallest of space between my legs.

3. I am thankful for my kids. If you have been reading our blogs for any amount of time, you will know how important our kids are to my wife and I. In our book, ZagZig Parenting, we talk extensively about them and we even had each of them write a chapter in the book because they are that important to us. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. They are the reason I became a stay at home dad. I love them each for their individuality, their personality, their courage in the face of hardship, their humor, their compassion and their love for me and their mom.

2. I am thankful for my wife. We have known each other since we were sixteen! She is my forever soul mate. I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. She has taught me how to be a loving husband. She has encouraged me to always be an involved,

emotional dad. She has pushed me when I didn’t want to be pushed but she knew I needed it. She taught me what it means to have faith in something bigger than myself. She has loved me unconditionally even when I don’t deserve it.

1. I am thankful for God. I know that faith is defined differently for many people. I am not trying to push my beliefs on anyone but rather say that having faith in something that is bigger than myself gives me comfort. Having a community that has common beliefs has made me feel like I belong. I believe that because of such faith, every part of my life has been made stronger. This has been a challenge for me over the years to get to this point but it is my belief that the rest of my top 10 comes from my faith in God.

Change your perspective today! Now its your turn! Go write your Top 10 things you are thankful for this Thanksgiving!

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