Sometimes in life, it’s hard to find things for which we should be thankful.  In our daily pursuit of more, we often fail to take the time to appreciate what we already have.  We take this time of Thanksgiving to pause, halfway between the bustle of Halloween and the hustle of Christmas, and reflect on all the things we overlook every day of our lives, the mundane and extraordinary that we value so little, even as it sits right beneath our noses.

I, too, am guilty of this offense, of taking for granted the positive things in my life while focusing on all the things I wish I could change and of which I am unable to change.  In my defense, I’ve had a rough few years.  In a little less than three years, I have been treated for cancer, have lost my mother far too young, and am even now going through a painful divorce.  Still, on this day, if on no other, I look at what I have to be thankful for.

–I am thankful for my children.  The four of them are the foundation of my life, the primary reason I have for being, and the legacy I will leave behind when I am gone.  Even when they are not with me in person, they are always with me.

–I am thankful for my job.  Sure, like most people, I bitch and complain about my job, and there are things I don’t like about it.  However, I am glad that I do have a job in a time when so many people are without.  I am also thankful for my coworkers, who are a bunch of crazy, bickering loons, but they are my bunch of crazy, bickering loons.

–I am thankful for my friends.  Some of them, I have known since childhood and, even though we rarely speak in the course of our busy lives, we always pick up exactly where we left off, usually with crude humor and poorly-phrased puns.  Others, I have never met in person, yet they are as close to me as anyone could possibly be under the circumstances.  Old or new, near or far, they are all special to me and I appreciate them more than they know.

–I am thankful for the opportunity to go back to school.  It was a huge leap for me to make the commitment to go back to college, not knowing how it would work into my schedule and not entirely sure how I would pay for it and still not knowing if, at the end, it will pay off.  Despite my early fears, I have found school to be the one area of my life where I feel like I am making progress and instead of the burden I worried it would be, it has become the rock on which I intend to build the rest of my successes going forward.

–I am thankful for the characters in my head, waiting patiently for me to get back to writing their stories.  For now, they continue to lounge in the breakroom of my mind, sipping coffee and eating danishes, awaiting the moment when I will ask them to clock back in and get to work.

–I am thankful there is a new Muppet movie and, on the horizon, a Dark Shadows movie.  You have no idea how happy the two of these together has made me, even as I’m afraid of how the DS movie will turn out.

–I am thankful for my dad, who keeps helping me out in ways that I could never repay.

–I am thankful for my brother, who continues to make me proud.

–Finally, I am thankful for the truths that have been shown to me this year, no matter how much I wanted to believe the lies.  The truth has, indeed, set me free.

There are more things, I’m sure, but I’m exhausted after a long, thankful day at work.  In the meantime, I leave you with this in the hopes that it will pick up whatever slack I left.

Today is Veterans Day in the United States which, thanks to our presence throughout the world, makes it Veterans Day in every country where our service personnel are stationed.  From here to Iraq to Afghanistan to Germany, American citizens take this day to observe, reflect, and show thanks for the job our military does to preserve our freedoms.

The military has changed since Veterans Day was first made official in 1954.  Technology has taken much of the lead in how we conduct our military affairs.  We employ drones to perform reconnaissance and strikes on distant targets.  We use satellite data instead of live scouts on the ground.  We employ a wide array of computer-based innovations to fight terror and oppression on every front.  Still, it remains that the most valuable resource our military possesses is the collective group of brave men that not only operate and develop these technologies, but who also use them in the neverending fight against our enemies.

The military has changed in other ways, as well.  Such service to our country is no longer considered a premium job opportunity by many of the best and the brightest minds in the country, who now prefer more lucrative–and less risky–careers.  Whereas our military was once staffed with some of the greatest minds the country had to offer, the glamor once held by the armed forces has worn thin, replaced by the constant reminders on the 24-hour news channels of the grim realities of war.  While the top students leave school and pursue careers in computer science or business or law or medicine, the military draws many wanderers to its ranks, young adults who has previously lacked direction or ambition, who have perhaps failed to produce the results that would get them into the best schools or lined up for the best careers.  The military accepts the wild child, the shiftless teen, the wayward youth, and it transforms them into the most tested and effective fighting force the world has ever know.  It takes these young men and women and turns them into soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines through a process that leads them to find the direction inside themselves.  It takes the raw materials that years of television, video games, and the internet have given it, and it produces the best this country has to offer.

And so, on this somber occassion, while we confront enemies in two theaters of war and scattered throughout the world to our own doorstep, I praise the veterans and active duty members of the United States armed forces.  While some of us stay locked safe in our houses playing Call of Duty or Battlefield, you are on the front lines, risking your lives for the sake of everything we hold dear.  And today, and every day, we are grateful.

We say, in passing, that there are certain people we would take a bullet for.  Our children, sure.  Our family and friends.  It is wise to remember that the members of our military would take–and do take–a bullet for each of you.  Regardless of race or creed, religion or gender, each member of our military has made the commitment to take that bullet fired from an enemy’s gun for all of us, even if they don’t know our names.  They do so not necessarily out of love for us individually, but for love of our country and the people–all of us–who make it a place worth defending.

So, to all the veterans and active duty military personnel (including my brother and my father), have a safe, blessed day.