Thanks giving

I used to get angry at those people on t.v. who were too stupid to understand how bad their life was. They’d be standing on a hill outside of their home ankle deep in water. The camera would pan over to the home and show the water still lapping up around the window level. The front door would be open and you could see their couch floating on three feet of water.

The camera would move back to them and the announcer would say, “it looks as if you’ve lost everything in this flood.”

“Well,” the mom would say with her arms around a child clutching a teddy bear, “I wouldn’t say that at all. We were very lucky. We all got out safely.”

“Lucky?” I’d shout at the set, “Lucky? A flood came and took all your possessions away. Lucky would be if the storm blew safely out to sea.”

You just knew that this family was thankful for all that they had every single day and that this storm hadn’t changed that.

What’s wrong with those people? Don’t they see all that is wrong in their life? Where’s their anger? Where’s their indignation? And how did I become one of them?

How did I become one of those people I used to scream at through my television?

We had something happen in February that sucks more than you can imagine. Maybe not more than you can imagine, but at least as much as you can imagine. And yet, other than that, we have a pretty wonderful life.

Now before February, I realized this daily. I appreciated Kim, Maggie, Elena, our friends, our neighbors, my colleagues, and the world around me. Not in a goofy, cult-like, rose-colored-glasses kind of way. In a way where I would stop to smell the coming spring as I left the house in the morning. In a way where the day would pause when the girls came into the room.

I wasn’t always like this. I don’t remember how I got here but I can remember one of those moments where I noticed a change. Kim and I had been fighting about something and I was waiting in the rain for her to pick me up. She was late – she’s always late. Other couples argue about money. We mostly argue about time. I got in the car and said “thanks for picking me up.” And I meant it.

She looked over to see if I was being sarcastic or somehow chiding her for being late. I could well have been. I just wasn’t. I certainly had been unpleasant in similar situations during our marriage. But I wasn’t at that time. And she looked at me and said “your welcome.” And she meant it.

So here’s the thing. We were fighting but she still came to pick me up. We were fighting and she was late but I was still grateful she came to get me. We were fighting and she paused a moment to let me know that she would be there for me when I needed a ride – even when we were fighting.

And that’s when I realized that you can be angry about this thing over there and not let it change who you are and how you go through the rest of your day.

Barry Diller was recently asked about how his company IAC/Interactive cooperates in some ventures with companies that he competes with in other ventures. He said, “If you actually had some approach which is ‘because you compete with me, I’m never going to talk to you about anything.’ That won’t work today, and certainly ain’t going to work tomorrow.”

And so I have this one area of my life that sucks as much as you can imagine.

And yet, other than that one area, there is so much good around me.

On this first Thanksgiving since my six year old died, you may yell at these words the way I used to yell at my t.v. screen.

“Hey,” you can yell, “Daniel, wake up and smell the coffee. Your life is horrible. You lost a child this year.”

Yeah. I know. Not a day goes by that I don’t know that. But I also know the love of people I see every day, people I see now and then and people I’ve never met. I have fights with Kim over dumb things. That’s not going to stop. But none of that means we aren’t always there for each other.

I am thankful this Thanksgiving. I’m even thankful that those of you who are yelling care enough to yell.

Published in: on November 23, 2006 at 10:47 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Daniel – my wife says ‘thank you’ all the time and it’s one of the things that makes her so very special. We all have a tendency to start taking things for granted and it truly is amazing what those two simple words can accomplish. Thanks for taking the time to blog!

  2. She sounds lovely. When I read these words, I miss her. I hope you three will be okay.

    I never cry, but this blog always makes me cry.

  3. There’s a phrase that has become popular in recent years…”It is what it is.” Pretty much it is said when there is a situation that we don’t like and we can’t do a thing about it. Obviously that statement is appropriate in your loss of Elena. Not a damn thing you, me or anyone else can do about it. It does suck. Out loud. And there is absolutely no way anyone can really get their mind around it or make any sense whatsoever about it. It is what it is.

    But what makes you such an incredible human being is how you know that and throughout these many past months you have taught us that you have two choices – you can continue to lay down and give up….or, you can get back up, brush yourself off, and go forward as best you can. Of course, that is not to say that there will be so many times when you just let go and lay down and feel so terribly sad for your loss. I am no psychologist, but I would guess that is healthy.

    You remain a wonderful man – so smart and compassionate, a good husband and father. There is so much to tend to in your wonderful life. You, Kim, Maggie and sweet Elena are forever in my heart and mind, and I will pray each and every day that the bond of unconditional love and support of yourselves and your family and friends, colleagues, etc. will help in some way to make the minutes, days, months and years ahead capable of bringing you joy.

    So, yeah, there is that thing over there that makes you (and so many other of us as well) angry.

    Thank you for once again reminding all of us that there is stuff on the other side of that place that makes us warm, comfortable and appreciative for all that we have.

    Have a good day, Daniel. And, as always, love to you, Kim and Maggie.

  4. Whether things are good or bad, whether you should be thankful or not, are often based one’s perspective or viewpoint.

    Gee and I had a rule to never go leave in the middle of an argument or fight…Of course, we were pretty fortunate in that we never argued or fought. The reasoning was this—we didn’t want the last words between us to be ones of a fight or argument…as my sister’s words to my twin were.

    Also, I’ve noticed that if you truly love someone… you’ll do things for them, even if you are angry with them just because they asked you to.

    Life is also too short to be angry and fighting with the people you care about most.

    I hope the upcoming holidays find you, Kim and Maggie well.


  5. Oh my, Daniel. I wept when I read this…for the beauty of the writing and for your loss. Thank you for being brave enough to share. It has touched me deeply.

    Blessings always,

    Shirley Buxton

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