Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Even someone like me, who can be pessimistic at the best of times (tho I still claim I’m being realistic), has many things to be thankful for.
A few weeks ago we decided to get a pet. We were at our local Pet Smart to pick up food for the gerbils and birds, and one of the local shelters had a number of cats on site. We didn’t have much money left, so we bought what we needed and headed off to grab something to eat. While we were eating I was thinking about it. I’m definitely an “impulse buyer”, although I’d prefer to look at it more like an adoption in this case. It’s sort of crazy, this concept that you can buy and own another animal.
We hadn’t checked on how much taking a cat home would cost, so on a whim I decided we’d head back and check on how much it would be, with the thought that we’d come back in a couple of weeks and choose a new pet. When we got back to Pet Smart we found out that the adoption fee was 50% off, which dropped it to only $35. All the cats had all their shots and checkups, and were all healthy. In addition to that, they were giving coupons that covered the first big container of litter, and food for a week or more was included. We also found out there were a couple good plastic carriers people had donated. So all we really needed was a litter box. We still put it off, thinking we’d get a cat at the first of the year, when we could afford the pet deposit. Until a friend of ours ended up in the hospital, and none of her family members wanted to take in the cat she’d just rescued from the same shelter Pet Smart works with.
We only had $60 left, to last over a week, but after spending some time with Cara, it was obvious we were taking her home. Long story short, we ended up bringing a new pet home, and we named her Cara, since she hadn’t started answering to the name our friend gave her yet. We named her after the Mord-Sith in the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. It seemed to fit (we also named our cockatiel Zedd).
I can’t begin to describe how much of a difference having a new family member has made. I think we’re both much calmer, and we both enjoy spending time playing with the cat. She’s now part of the family, and while we miss our friend (she finally passed away), I’m really glad we decided to take in her rescue. We got the perfect new addition to our family, and already we can’t even picture her not being with us.
My personal tradition is to try and think of something new each year to be thankful for. Regrettably, it’s taken me getting older to put some things together. I always hated, as a child, when someone told me I couldn’t understand because I was still a child. For some things, it does take many years of experience to get it.
My childhood was, well, boring would be the best word to describe it. For much of my childhood my mother and I lived with my grandparents. Those were mostly good years; I was very happy living with my grandparents. It was a small town, however, and occasionally I would get so incredibly bored. There were 2 people in my life that occasionally rescued me, and tried to impart life lessons. One of those people was my older brother Fred. This isn’t about him right now, however. The other was a guy we all called “Big Alan”.
The name, Big Alan, was for two reasons. He was hella tall, and my younger brother was named after him. To avoid confusion, we had “big” Alan, and “little” Alan.
Alan was sort of an odd guy. He sold fish, both that he caught himself off the coast of Massachusetts and bought at the various fish markets in Boston. His cars always had the worst fish smell. These were the years that my mother was trying to be a good Christian, and Alan was part of that. He was, at times, preachy, but never overbearing. His approach was to try and get me to understand things on my own, rather than being told what to believe.
This was in the 80’s where many of the Christian denominations were in an uproar about back masking in rock music. My mother had us in a Pentecostal church at the time, and the things we were being told were nuts (especially looking back on it). For example, we were told any instrument that worked off electricity was of the devil (this was an extension of “electric guitars are evil”). I wouldn’t be able to contain my laughter if someone said this to me now.
Alan didn’t buy any of that (rightly so). Even tho he was a devout Christian, he had no trouble blasting some Led Zepplin in his fishy smelling car. Granted, he usually made up Christian lyrics to go along with it, but this was my first exposure to good music. He’s the one that taught me, maybe without even meaning to, to really get into the music, to appreciate the sound and layers even if the lyrics didn’t work for me. It’s more of a religious experience than simply just listening, and by that I don’t mean a Christian experience. It’s more spiritual than human religious institutions.
I just experienced my first live orchestra just a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing, it blew me away. It gave me goosebumps, and made me think. My ability to experience music in this way is directly because of Alan.
He also introduced me to one of my favorite places on earth. That would be Rockport, Massachusetts. He took my mother, my younger brother, and I there quite a few times when I was young. It’s a little tourist village not far from Gloucester, and has the best chowder house anywhere. It’s a place that calms me, it really puts my mind at ease. It’s very hard to explain. I’m glad I’ve been able to go with rayne. We had an awesome time, and I hope to get back there again next year.
As the fishy smell in the car implies, Alan was big on fishing. He would pick me up and find obscure fishing spots we would hike to, or just drive to Mass. and head out in Boston harbor. You haven’t fished until you’ve been in a tiny aluminum boat just outside the harbor on a windy day. This really taught me an appreciation of nature, and this is still strong today. This directly influenced my photography. I love to hike, and maybe throw in a little Geocaching for some added fun. This is something I miss most, not having a car right now. We can’t go to nature preserves and spend the day in the woods like we used to.
I was sort of taken aback while I was thinking about all this. So many things were shaped by this one person in my life, even down to something as simple as my appreciation for a nice prime rib. Unfortunately, I haven’t spoken to him in many, many years. I think he was very disappointed in me when I married at a young age (16). At the time, I was young, with a new wife, a new daughter, and that took up all of my time. I didn’t have time to walk in the woods, or go fishing, and I think that ultimately drove us apart. I hope wherever he is that good things have happened for him. So many things that I can appreciate are directly because of him, and I’m very thankful for that.
As always, I’m thankful for my wife. We’re coming up on our 8 year (8 or 9? Just kidding!) anniversary. There’s been some rough spots, but what relationship doesn’t have those? We’ve survived those rough spots, and in the end it’s only made our relationship stronger. I’m still not even remotely bored, and I don’t think I ever will be. Sometimes people are just meant for each other, and besides, I love her more.
So, those are my thoughts today. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!