Begel's top four reasons for giving special thanks on this special holiday
Sometimes a day like Thanksgiving can be a little confusing.
Do you give thanks for your new job or your new car or your new girlfriend? Do you give thanks for the soldiers who keep us free or the police or firemen who keep us safe? When asked, do you respond with the vague, "My family because that's the most important to me"? Do you answer "God"?
Over the years, I've probably used all of them, normally answering without giving it much thought and going with the first thing that pops into my mind.
This year I've actually given it thought. I wanted a specific answer and I came up with one. I'm thankful for four little people who taught me an amazing lesson.
At one point in my life, I thought I had utilized my quota of love. I had a wife and two daughters and gave them what I thought was all my love.
Then along came Charlie, and I worried about whether I'd love him enough. What I found with Charlie – as well as Molly, Alex and Casey – was that the love in your heart knows no boundaries. You just get more of it as each occasion arises. So it's these four who I am most thankful for.
Charlie is nine now, and he was the first. It felt like a miracle. He's the child of my oldest daughter's. He's a quiet young man, and I remember one of his early teachers saying, "Still waters run deep." He's smart and has a great sense of humor. Quick with his shy smile, he's an athlete. Soccer has always been his best game, but recently he's found football. He's an amazing receiver for a kid. He runs disciplined pass patterns and catches the ball in his hands, no matter how hard you throw it at him. At some point, his parents are going to face the question of whether Charlie is going to be allowed to play football. It's an issue parents all over are struggling with, given some evidence about the difficulties caused by repeated football contact. As a former football player, I hope he plays. But I'd rather have him not play football if he might get hurt.
Molly and her little brother Casey are two reasons to give thanks.
Molly came along next for my youngest daughter. As Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage," and that's Molly. She is in the middle of the stage, playing all the parts in the play that is her life. She's got an incredibly breadth of interests, and they come and go into her life like the wind on a summer day. She has been known to cuddle, even with her grandfather. Molly can run fast, and she plays a great game of soccer, even though she treats that as another play, aware of her audience, and not just an athletic contest. My mother, who was an actress, would love Molly. I am consistently sad that they never really had much time to get to know each other. For some reason, one of the first things Molly learned to read was the phrase "gas station." Every time we'd pass one, she'd let me know that was a gas station.
Alex was the third one. He's Charlie's brother and is seven years old. Alex is the artist of the group. His concentration when working on a piece of art is amazing. He's locked in like you wouldn't believe. Last Halloween, he built a spider web in his basement with yarn and masking tape. It was incredibly detailed. Alex is also unafraid of physical contact. When he sleeps over, his favorite trick to wake me in the morning is the "flying butt bomb," jumping as high as he can and landing, butt first, on my head. It is better than any alarm clock. Alex can spend an hour alone in a snowstorm building a fort in his front yard. For some reason nobody knows, Alex loves birds. He can sit for hours paging through one of those cocktail table bird books. I have fears he may try to build wings, put them on and jump off his back porch, hoping to fly.
Casey is Molly's brother, and he's only four. He's got a mind of his own and is very independent. When he makes up his mind what he wants – or doesn't want – to do, there is very little I can do to change his mind. The absolute best thing about Casey is his laugh. It's is contagious and comes easily. When Casey laughs, the world laughs with him. When I'm in a store or Culver's with Casey, people stop to say how cute he is. He likes being outdoors and running around. He's also been taught to do the boy thing and pee outside behind a tree when it hits. He's still working on the behind the tree part.
These four kids make me have one wish on this Thanksgiving.
I hope that each and every one of you has someone in your life that you can love this much and get this much enjoyment out of.
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