Giving thanks

When life is good, itís easy to be thankful for what you have. But when youíre looking out at life through glasses which have taken on a decidedly ruddy brown cast rather than a cheerful rose, it can be a little more difficult to find anything to be thankful about. Of course, those are the times when it is perhaps most important to take stock, and give a word of thanks for what you do have.

This past year has been a tough one for many of us. Whether it is societal woes like layoffs, business closures, unemployment, foreclosures and war, or personal struggles with sickness and disease, alcohol and substance abuse, depression, the end of relationships Ė I think itís safe to say that there have been a lot of dark days in 2009.

Despite that grim reality, pinpricks of light show through. They are the small bits of kindness, the power of friendships, the familial ties which give us hope and get us through those dark hours. They also give us reason to give thanks.

This year, itís not an easy exercise even for me. Far too many of my friends and family have been touched by the tough economic times. Cancer, too, has struck close to home. But I know that, despite all of that, there is plenty in my life to be thankful for.

My parents top the list. I canít help feeling that I hit the cosmic jackpot when such familial assets were meted out. Every day I thank my lucky stars for these two amazing people who gave me life and continue to give me their love, faith, support and strength. With them in my corner, I know anything is possible.

And I am so glad that I can be here for them as well. Because, in addition to being the most caring, compassionate parents on the face of the Earth, they also happen to be two of my best friends. I cherish every moment I get to spend with them, and love them with all of my heart.

Iím also thankful for my sister Trish and my brothers, Dennis and Ken. Things may be rocky between us at times, but I love them nonetheless and I know they love me, too. And thanks to them, Iím blessed with a crew of nieces and nephews which would make any aunt proud.

Itís important to have people in your life who tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear. I am particularly thankful for my niece Jessica in this regard. Her words woke me up from a period of my life which I think of as my big sleep. Without her, I donít know if I would have had the courage to throw caution to the wind and pursue my writing. Her wisdom, despite her youth, has helped me on more than one occasion see things with newfound clarity. And I donít know if Iíve ever thanked her properly for it, until now.

Iím thankful for the rest of my family as well, including all 35 of my Farrell first cousins plus the full contingent of aunts and uncles. And, while it may seem cheesy, Iím thankful for Facebook, too, since it helps us all keep in touch despite the miles that separate us.

Iím also inordinately thankful for my friends, who have been my emotional rocks this past year. There are four old friends in particular Ė Liz, Ed, Melissa and Vickie Ė who I am so glad to have in my life. Even though on occasion they have a hard time returning phone calls (ahem), they always seem to appear miraculously in my hour of need Ė ready to do the heavy lifting, lend a shoulder to cry on or make me laugh when I need it most. They know me better than I know myself in many regards.

With their help and support, I have been able to get something I am also incredibly thankful for: closure. After more than a year and a half, I have finally turned the page on a chapter of my life which has caused much pain. At long last, I feel whole again.

Part of feeling whole for me is writing. And I am thankful that I not only have a job right now, when so many others are without, but one that I truly love. I am definitely thankful for the opportunity to be a part of The Evening Sun staff.

Iím also grateful for our readers, for continuing to support Chenango Countyís hometown daily newspaper and for the feedback they provide, both positive and constructive.

While I could certainly go on listing all of the many things Iím thankful for, there are other things that require my attention today. Like cooking an 18-pound turkey. And if my father has his way, baking an apple pie.

May the holidays find you happy, safe, healthy and surrounded by those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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