I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for my family even though they agree that in the fictional scenario in which we are prevented from ever leaving our home again because of a cloud of toxic gas that has settled over our town, and must now rely only on a mysterious underground infrastructure that provides daily supplies of food; that in the ensuing claustrophobic conditions, complicated by the lack of electricity or WiFi, that sooner or later would make us all itch with a little bit of crazy and lead us to contemplate and plan on getting rid of one or more members to preserve the sanity of the remaining members…I would be the first to go.
I brought this on myself. First, because I’m the one who brought it up in a weird after dinner conversation early in our present vacation. And second, because I’m the one who moves within the family universe with the most dramatic orbit; from composed and serious, even melancholy, to genuinely connective and intentional, to animated exuberance that becomes silly (funny!) and annoying. It can be a lot to take and it makes my relegation to the toxic wasteland of our town an understandable, if hurtful, decision.
I am a lucky man, well-loved and provided the chance to love and care for an extraordinary group of people. If my orbit is wide and unpredictable, Theresa’s is consistent and reliable. She tempers my extremes with straight talk and practicality and I’m pretty sure I have helped to unlock some of her goofiness. More than that, I just like to be with her (and she with me, though the fictional scenario results are concerning); she’s exceedingly creative, full of ideas and is the most generous and well-respected person I know.
We brought three pretty great humans into the world and I am still processing how different they are from one another and how eerily familiar they seem as they evolve into beings wholly their own. It’s really fun to watch. Also scary. And heartbreaking, too. Like when they go to college or otherwise prove their independence. I feel exceedingly proud of them and also unworthy because the true task of fatherhood often feels like too tall an order to fill. But then again, so do the callings of work, marriage and friendship. And, now that they’ve agreed that I’m first to go, maybe I don’t need to worry as much about all of that!
Finally, ‘family’ is ill-defined if I only mention these four fine people. My mom is the epitome of the spirit of youth and will never stop fighting for the joy that sensibility brings her. My five older siblings are each a loving presence in my life. I am grateful for what each has taught me and for how our adult relationships continue to form and grow. And Theresa’s family I consider as my own. They have only ever been welcoming and generous to me, connections now over 28 years in the making.
It’s easy to be thankful for my family. They keep my feet on the ground so that I can more easily reach my head…my dreams, my aspirations… into the sky. And though they seem a bit too willing to sacrifice me for their personal sanity and survival, at least I am clear on their intentions and can get to work building that subterranean man-cave I’ve been dreaming about.
Anything for my family!
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.