This week we celebrated Thanksgiving, which is my favorite Holiday of the year. This year, as I continue to make an effort to push myself to write and blog more, I thought I would take the time to write an open letter of thanks to my parents – for whom I would not be here today without, nor would I be the person I am today without. I began writing this last week, and while on the topic, began to think of a few other thank you letters I am going to write after I finish this one too. I’ll be honest when I say that I know some of them may be long overdue. But, the most important one will be this one – for no other reason that I am writing it because of my parents, and for my parents.
I’m not here to say that I’m perfect, or that I grew up with perfect parents in a perfect house in a perfect life. I’ll be the first to tell you that this letter/blog is not all fluff like many of these posts on this topic are. This letter is real, and I mean it. This letter today isn’t about perfect, in fact it’s not just about thanks either, but also acceptance of flaws and legacy. What I’ve realized in writing this letter is that I have not been the most accepting of my parents in years past, even though they’ve always been accepting of me, good or bad. Maybe that’s because I’m their son, but that’s beside the point. I’ve realized that in all the ups and downs, I haven’t quite made the peace with them that I know I need to make with them, and I’ve also realized that when people finally do make peace with their parents, they usually realize that it’s too late to do so – it usually takes a traumatic event to trigger this kind of reflection in people, and I wish not to wait for such a tragedy, whatever that may or may not be. It is true that there are many things that my parents and I agree and disagree on, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still, and always will be, my parents. I write this letter below today with our differences on the shelf. It is about the gratitude for which I am forever indebted to them for blessing me with this beautiful life I have. It is about realizing no one is perfect, but being thankful for their gifts and their presence in our lives anyway.
I read a tweet from Dean Abbott the other day. It read:
This thought here is what ultimately inspired me to write the letter I have written below. While we sit down to enjoy our long-awaited Turkey dinners, let’s be reminded that this Holiday goes far beyond just the dinner table. It goes beyond spending time with those closest to us in our lives. It goes beyond cherishing the Holiday Season with loved ones. It goes beyond the endless amount of football we will see on our TVs. Thanksgiving is a Holiday to reflect on all that we are grateful for and thankful for in this moment, including the life experiences we’ve been blessed to have, the time we are able to spend with our family and friends not just today on Thanksgiving, but at any time of the year, the reminiscing of times spent with the ones we’ve lost, and even the struggles we inherently encounter on the roller coaster of our lives. At the end of the day, all of these factors shape who we become. And while who we become will be a forever changing process, we again should be aware that no one, including ourselves, is perfect. We’re all flawed in our own ways, but learning to accept this of one another, apologizing when we’re wrong, and being forgiving of each other’s mistakes are crucial to the point that Dean speaks about in his tweet above. There is also much to be thankful for in this life, despite how flawed or brilliant we all are, and so I write this letter today to make the peace with my parents that Dean is referring to, and to give thanks for all that they’ve done for me and given me in this life – feelings, values, conflicts, and circumstances aside. So, without further ado, here is my letter of thanks:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Thank you for blessing me with a beautiful life.
Thank you for your endless unconditional love.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for always caring.
Thank you for watching and helping me grow.
Thank you for being the light when I sometimes didn’t know where to look.
Thank you for blessing me with my brothers.
Thank you for working so hard to provide for me and my brothers.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for a roof over my head, and a warm home.
Thank you for sacrificing your lives to raise my brothers and me.
Thank you for the wonderful holiday memories you provided over the years.
Thank you for 17 years of travel hockey.
Thank you for putting up with me when I wasn’t so kind or supportive of you.
Thank you for the countless trips to Myrtle Beach, Oak Island, The Outer Banks, and Cape Cod over the years.
Thank you for getting me to 7am practices on Sunday mornings.
Thank you for getting me to 10pm games in Buffalo on Wednesday nights.
Thank you for helping me get my education.
Thank you for backing me up, without choice, when I decided to start up the Backyard Hockey Festival street hockey tournaments every summer without first talking to you about it (oops).
Thank you for letting me find my way and letting me struggle without much guidance at times, then stepping in when you thought it was needed.
Thank you for putting up with my stubborn nonsense when you dragged me to places I didn’t want to go to, or made me do things I didn’t want to do as a kid.
Thank you for making me write when I was disrespectful (LOL).
Thank you for the endless memories made on our trips to the Mountains.
Thank you for taking me and my brothers to see and meet Dad’s family up north in Canada.
Thank you for not agreeing with me all the time (disagreements aren’t always bad).
Thank you for the endless memories you provided me and my brothers and our hockey buds with our backyard rink every winter.
Thank you for the endless amount of time you spent building and maintaining our rink every winter.
Thank you for raising me to believe that there is much good still left to do in the world and that I can help contribute to make our world a better place to live.
Thank you for helping me in all areas of my life even if I wasn’t so helpful to you in the past.
Thank you for always forgiving me whenever I have been in the wrong.
Thank you for celebrating life events with me and for me.
Thank you for providing me with the best life you could have given me.
Thank you for taking me to Toronto, NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lake Placid, Cleveland, Boston, and the countless other cities you took me to for hockey tournaments.
Thank you for being at every one of my hockey games that you could make.
Thank you for encouraging me to do things beyond my comfort zone, even if I didn’t do them, or did do them and didn’t like them.
Thank you for not sending me and my brothers to day care growing up, or handing us off to babysitters whenever you felt like it.
Thank you for 17 years of hotels and restaurant meals in our travel hockey life.
Thank you for the loving animals we always had in our home.
Thank you for keeping Grandma Howatt’s car for me after she passed away so that I had a nice car to drive in high school and college.
Thank you for always being my number one advocate.
Thank you for working with Uncle Terry to provide us with a home gym when my brothers and I got older.
Thank you for the countless trips to the West Wayne Theatre for movie nights (Is that theatre still open??).
Thank you for all the money, and more importantly, TIME, you spent on varsity hockey stuffed shells for the hockey teams to enjoy on carb load nights.
Thank you for instilling in me the value of teamwork and what it means to work with others to achieve a common goal.
Thank you for accepting my flaws even when I have not been so accepting of yours.
Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work.
Thank you for taking me to emergency after the countless number of times I did stupid things on my bike and roller blades (LOL).
Thank you for teaching me the value of time spent with family, even if I didn’t quite get the importance of it in my teenage years.
Thank you for allowing me to find my way, even if I got lost.
Thank you for keeping an open-door policy for friends to come over and hang out at any time as my brothers and I got older.
Thank you for the countless hours you spent poolside during the summers when we would swim all day long.
Thank you for involving me in the life of your brothers and sisters and their kids’ lives when you could, even if it took me some time for me to come around (see importance of family value above).
Thank you for always accepting that I’ve been mature beyond my years since 2nd grade (maybe before then??).
Thank you for the countless hours on the road in those 17 years of travel hockey.
Thank you for the endless late-night bonfires with friends every weekend in the summer.
Thank you for letting me take your camper to start camping traditions with friends after I graduated high school even though I have my own stuff now.
Thank you for delicious home-cooked meals.
Thank you for being my first life coaches.
Thank you for raising me and blessing me with a beautiful life.
Thank you for being you.