It was early October, and the deadline for submitting a piece for the Simply Saratoga Holiday issue was looming. At the same time, I was desperately trying to complete a small bathroom renovation. My DIY skills and patience were maxed out; I had grout and silicone caulk everywhere but where I wanted it, and my one-month lease sharing my wife's bathroom was up. I'd spent more on gas running back and forth to the home improvement stores than I had on materials. When I get to the point of holding my head in my hands and looking for some divine intervention, I do what anyone else would do in that situation. I go back to 2014 and pull up something I wrote for Thanksgiving that year. 
Here it is, with a minor revision and a little update at the end:


I am thankful to be here to enjoy the faces around me every day, the faces of family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else who passes me during the day. That is what I'm most thankful for today.

Faces are where happiness begins, starting with that first look in the mirror. We'd all like a younger-looking reflection first thing in the morning, but the simple fact that there is someone there, is pretty significant on the thank-you scale.

The second face I see is the one I'm most thankful for; that's the face of the person who loves me most. She vowed to love me through thick and thin, and she's kept her word. She feeds me, clothes me, and keeps me out of harm's way. She encourages my good decisions and discourages my bad ones. She lifts me when I need it most and reminds me of things I should not forget. I am grateful God made her hand fit mine so well.

The faces I see next are in photographs of sons, their wives, and the grandsons they have gifted to the world. Those cherished faces appear on walls, in albums, and in cyber-space where you can find them posted for the world to see. I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy those faces with the click of a mouse or the push of a cell phone button. Those faces swell my head with pride and fill my heart with love.

The next face I am thankful for belongs to my sister. She is the one who introduced music to my soul. She taught me life lessons that many people never learn. She taught me about survival and endurance in a world that doesn't always play fair. She is my hero, and I love her.

I am thankful for the parents who created my face, and I miss them. They provided volumes of fond memories that sustain me daily. They're responsible for the sense of humor I never let wander too far. They taught me right from wrong early on. They instilled the value of "please and thank you." They laid the foundation that enabled me to enjoy my life and all the faces that would fill it. They admitted to making mistakes, but they also told me to learn from them, so I did. I learned from theirs and mine. I am thankful that I listened to that advice most.

I am thankful for the faces I see Monday through Friday. The ones that work side by side with me. They show up every day so they can pay their mortgages and support the faces in their homes. The camaraderie and our common goals lift me and keep me showing up. Work has defined much of my life. Work has enabled me to meet some of the most beautiful faces in the world—beauty in the form of honesty, integrity, ambition, and energy. I have known hundreds of faces that overflowed with compassion for the faces of people they may never meet.

With overwhelming gratitude, I am thankful for the faces of the armed services, first responders, and non-profit volunteers I have known or have never met.

As a final 2022 update to the eight-year-old piece above, I'm reminded of one particular face from last Christmas. It was the face of my youngest grandson. He was only four, but wise beyond his years. He was lying under the Christmas tree, staring up into the branches. He lay there for quite some time.

I asked, "Cam, what are you doing?"

His response still triggers a wipe of the eyes.

"I'm pretending I'm a present."

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