I could talk about how I’m thankful for headache medicine when you wake up before 5 with a throbbing headache, but I’m thinking that’s not blog-worthy! So, what is worth my time and thought on Thanksgiving?
Family & felines, of course!
I’m thankful for my parents. I took this picture on their 55th anniversary when I met them for dinner. They’re most likely the biggest fans of my writing. Mom’s been known to tell retail cashiers about my books. I know this because my former principal heard her once and let me know about it. I also know they’ve told the manager of the hotel where they stay in Tennessee. Even though I live on my own, I know I can always show up at their house and be welcomed. My mom volunteers in my classroom now that she’s retired. Dad helps with time-consuming tasks during set-up in July. If I forget something I need for the day’s lesson, they’ve been known to run down to my house to get it or stop by Walgreens or WalMart to get it for me. On Saturdays, I generally meet them for breakfast to check in and just visit. As a teacher, I know that not all children are blessed with two parents who love each other, but I was and am. Yes, for my parents, I give thanks.
These cute girls holding my hands are my sisters. I am the youngest of three girls. Dianna, on the right, was the one who played dolls with me when we were growing up. We were HUGE Barbie fans. We could play for hours. She lives in a different town with her husband, Tim. They are active in their church and welcome many others into their family. In the midst of health concerns and the challenges of life, they are vocal in their faith. For that, I am thankful.
Sherry, on the left, is the one with whom I shared a bedroom until I went to college. I think there was one house where I had my own, but I don’t recall much about that. She and her husband are just a few minutes down the road, so when I need help…they come running. For instance, when my kitten died suddenly back in August, I called her in tears. Within thirty minutes, she and Matt arrived to take Topper to their place and bury him for me. She’s the one who saved me from a scavenger hunt for caramels a few days ago by picking them up on her lunch break. Matt’s the one who checks my car when needed and finds the best deal for tires when they needed replaced. They’re my guinea pigs for new recipes since cooking for one doesn’t allow much feedback. Their commitment to their family and their faith is evident, I am blessed to call them family.
Speaking of sisters, I always wanted to be someone’s big sister, but after three girls, Dad didn’t wanted to take a chance on a fourth! Ha! So, about a dozen years ago, I took the plunge to become a “Big” through Big Brothers & Big Sisters. First, I was matched with Courtney, but her family moved after about a year. I waited six months, in case they moved back, then agreed to a rematch. My next “Little” was Lacie. We were matched the summer before her first grade year. Now, she’s a sophomore. She’s lived in several houses and attended a handful of schools, but her smile hasn’t changed. Such joy! She often would ask, especially on her birthday, how long we would be “Big & Little”. I told her I think officially it lasts until graduation, but I’m sure we can grab meals and conversations as long as we want. To which she replies, knowing how much I dislike driving, that she’ll drive me when she gets her license. Ha. Yes, I’m blessed by my Little Sister.
Nope, Connor wasn’t forgotten. I just saved him for last. I figured he’d appreciate the distinction. Back in 1998, I learned that my sister, Sherry, was expecting a baby. What would any good teacher-sister do? She’d start collecting books, of course! They may not have turned him into someone who loves reading as much as I do, but I guess they’ve been our connector. When he was little, I’d read to him like I read to my students. He’d look at me with his little boy face and say, “Top it Dody.” Hmm, he wasn’t a fan of my voices….yet. In 3rd grade, he was in the room next to mine, as I didn’t want to be his teacher but wanted to stay “Aunt Jodi”. As his teacher and I did Rock N Read each day, his appreciation grew. Before long, as he’d go home with me after school until his parents got off work, he & I would both pull out various accents and entertain ourselves. Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when I finally acted on a personal dream, books connected us again. How? He offered to illustrate my picture books. Then, when I offered him a percent of the royalties for the picture books, he was thrilled. This fund helps finance footwear….what more could a college guy want? Whether it’s bear hugs, ladder work in my classroom, puns, or texts….he’s one of the best gifts I’ve received. He said it best when he told me last spring, “You know Jodi, we don’t have a normal aunt & nephew relationship. My friends don’t text or get cards from their aunt as much as me.” To that, I say….who wants to be normal when you can be special?
There you have it! Don’t get me wrong. I was blessed with a grandpa I loved dearly. I am thankful for childhood memories shared with Grandma and Aunt Eva. My grandpa’s brothers impacted me by either their faith or family commitment. I still have an aunt, uncle, and a couple of cousins who hold special places in my heart. I’m thankful for each connection. Yet, the eight mentioned above are the family ties that affect me most. They’re the ones who walk this journey of life with me. For that and so much more, I offer my thanksgiving.
Oops! I forgot the cats? I guess there will be a Feline Finale later today! Hmmm, that sounds like a great name for a children’s book.