First things first, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you’re spending it wisely with those you love, as I am today. Having to make the tough choices this year certaintly aren’t easy, but they are right. Because I’m spending today with my immediate family only, I wanted to talk about them in depth to truly express how thankful I am, and share some perspective on our relationships through the years.
My mom, dad and brother have always and will continue to be my biggest supporters and rocks. A lot of these ideas and concepts I share here on this site blossomed from seeds of ideas planted in our conversations with each other through the years. “Family” is obviously a vital piece of the Super 8, and while I’ve alluded to it and referenced it throughout my posts, I haven’t fully dedicated a post to them until today.
I’m not and never will be someone to say that my way and my life is the absolute way to live. Just as I can’t sit here and say that the way my parents handled us as kids was the ultimate way. But it was pretty darn special.
We were brought into the world under the notion that ‘the world needs good people, too.’ Despite the chaotic nature the world feels like it was in, has been in, and always will be in, there is plenty of room for the goodness of people. We were brought up with a balance. That balance being between discipline and fun, somehow with each never bleeding into each other. We were also brought up in faith, yet nothing too overbearing or intimidating, as the restraints of the Catholic church sometimes feel to young minds.
The love and respect we were showed by our parents was the same love and respect that we came to imitate and embrace. The trust we’d have to build, sometimes repeatedly, was always met with accountability and understanding. When we fell short, we’d know it. There’d be some complex, unordinary punishment and a long talk to follow. I get those now.
We traveled often, saw some cool parts of the world, and always enjoyed each other’s company. As we got older, our vacations became trips to our sporting events, which created a deeper bond in the natural successes and failures that follow sport. I played for Coach Dad for years, often having to find balance there, too.
My parents believed in naturally teaching us lessons by letting us learn for ourselves. We were enrolled in public schooling to teach us about diversity and building relationships with all people of our community. If we forgot our toothbrush on a trip, we’d have to be the ones to ask the front desk at the hotel for a replacement. We had to learn how to shake hands effectively, firmly, and respectfully for church every Sunday.
All of these things were instilled in my brother and I from a young, young age. Looking back, every decision my parents made was calculated to show us how to grow. While those short synopsis paragraphs are flavors of how we were raised, I want to focus on what I’m thankful for now. I have countless stories and feelings and perspectives that I could sit here and type for hours. But growing up in what felt like a sometimes strict childhood was a light that guided me to where I am today.
There’s a saying that I have framed in my bedroom that belonged to my grandfather. It reads, “a father’s love is neither an anchor to hold us down, or a sail to take us there, but rather a guiding light to show us the way.” That’s been the truth through and through. My dad was a tough father figure, often hard nosed and sometimes feared. But, it always came down to how much he cared. He never made sure we did things his way, he never dragged us along to accomplish things he wanted for us, and he never held us back from being ourselves. He lead by example in love, laughter and respect. Whatever we decided to do with our lives, his job was to make sure we were the best at it, held to our goals, and provide anything he could to get us there.
My mom was not the same type of enforcer my dad was, but matched the care, compassion, and support. She became invested in her sons’ interests and journeys so much so that they became her own. She has consistently and quietly given so much time and effort to our lives. From busting her tail at work, to making meals, to keeping our homes clean, and on and on, her time became our time and she’s never complained. She’s likely given the three of us more than we can express or repay.
My brother has always been his own thinker. He’s taken up his own interests in finance, sports, music, work, travel, and navigating through life through his own varieties of hardship. As he grows and develops, he knows that he can always count on me and my parents for support. His growth brings inspiration to me and I’m proud of how he continues to explore making his life better for himself. It’s not always easy being the younger brother.
Through the years, as our lives have changed, so have our relationships… and that’s what I’m most thankful for today. Life has changed faster than anticipated, but the constant in that change is each other. I could call at any time and talk for hours about whatever is going on. I’m blessed to have that. As I have started living on my own under my parents’ guidance, I have once again been put into a situation to help me grow. I’m thankful for that freedom. My family allows me to be myself. We can talk about anything at any time, and we can learn from each other, we are open to that. We can share our perspectives, communicate, and grow together while my brother and I grow into our own. All of those aspects are rare and special.
While ‘being myself’ isn’t perfect by any means, it’s me. The independence I’ve been granted is based in trust that my family has in me. I have room to grow, room to explore, room to experience, room to fail, room to apologize, room to take my thoughts and develop a website based in them. I am who I am largely because of them. When these posts do well, and I receive the compliments I’ve been so fortunate to consistently hear, it brings them pride, too. They know that much of this was manifested from them.
People sometimes tell me I’m ‘wise beyond my years,’ but I’ve really just matured at the rate my parents have led me to. The long talks, the uncomfortable situations, and the retrospectively funny punishments all accelerated my growth. I sat in church and listened to the messages of the homily, and I sat in our living room and listened to my dad talk about character. My parents will always tell me I deserve the credit for those things, but I don’t pick up on anything unless I’m blessed with resources to learn from.
So, I’m thankful for how they’ve helped me… as a son, brother, grandson, cousin, student, athlete, diabetic, blogger, and so much more. As I spend this Thanksgiving with them, I encourage you to express to your loved ones what matters to you most about them.
Be open to their growth, and give yourself to their needs and happiness sometimes. Your relationships and love will continue to be a firm constant in a world of so much stress and change. Don’t forget to show appreciation and gratitude today and every day… and never take the special things, big or small, for granted. Let us be glad.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.” – Thessalonians 5:18
Blessings and many thanks to you, as well, for your continued reading and support.