Happy November Everyone!

There is an interesting phenomenon when two people are in a long term relationship. Eventually the two extended families’ traditions and customs begin to merge and combine. Early in my relationship with my wife I was invited to her family’s Thanksgiving day meal which was very different than my own family’s traditions. In my family Thanksgiving a day about hunting and football with a meal thought of as secondary. Growing up in rural western New York late November is both freezing cold and deer season. My father and uncles would all wake up at 4am dress, have coffee, and meet in some frozen field, usually covered in snow, to go hunting. Before I was legally old enough to hunt I was dragged out on this tradition as a “runner”. My job was to run through the woods making noise in an effort to chase out any sleeping deer. Thankfully, one dinner didn’t rely on actually getting any venison because another part of this tradition was that no one ever actually shot a deer. In fact I don’t ever remember a shot being fired; not by choice of course I guess the deer were smarter than our hunting party.

Around 11am our band of tired and usually cranky hunters would make our way back to the trucks so that we could get back in time for the late lunch that was our Thanksgiving meal. Apparently, about the same time the men of the family (I know it was very stereotypically patriarchal) were sitting in the snow the women were rising early to start cooking. Turkey takes hours in the oven so to get lunch ready by 1:00 in the afternoon my grandmother must have been up before the sun. The march back to the trucks was usually followed by grumblings about missing all the deer but spirits usually warmed up when we opened the door and hit the smell of roasted turkey. Then when the TV was turned on to the football game (yes, stereotypes) the Lions and Cowboys usually convinced the fellas to give up on the dreams of the big bucks still out in the fields. The plan was always to go back hunting after lunch but most Thanksgiving Thursdays ended with the women playing Scrabble in the kitchen after cleaning up and the men snoring on the couch as the Cowboys played on the television. The spirit of family and tradition lingered as much as the smell of leftover turkey.

When I met my future wife as a mid-20’s grad student I was living far from the people and Thanksgiving traditions I had grown up with. As I was accepted into the new family and invited to join their customs and traditions I began to notice some of the different ways people celebrate while still keeping the spirit of the holiday in tact. My future in-laws still had football and there was still a big meal but the times shifted. No one hunted which meant that clock for all of the days activities was pushed back by a few hours. Now instead of a late lunch we had a dinner. This was fine with me because the first year my dad put me in a tree stand for 3 hours in 20 degree weather for 3 hours was the last year I had any desire to go hunting. The most interesting difference (and the reason for this post) was the pre-dinner routine.

At dinner time the table would be set and we would all mosey in and sit down. The turkey would be carved and ready to eat, the wine would be poured, and the turkey shaped butter ready to be dismembered but before a bite was taken everyone at the table has to go around the table and say what they were thankful for that year. Amanda and I have been married for 13 years and this side of my family has had its shares of joy and tragedy. Amanda and I have suffered miscarriages and infertility, my extended family has received Cancer diagnoses and major health issues, surprise deaths in the family, and financial set backs but every year we sit and say something we are thankful for because every year there is something (ok… had to pause to wipe some tears). By being thankful and sharing that thanks we grow closer as a family and it reminds us that even in the troubled times there is hope and promise. This tradition comes from our faith but the power of gratitude is not limited to religion; there is also a secular power to this changing mindset.

This November I am starting a new tradition on the Classroom Powerups blog. I want to invite people to my table to share something that they are thankful for. During this month I will be posting Guest Blog Posts by some of my PLN based on the theme of GRATITUDE.  We are going to digitally go around the table and create a family bond and remind ourselves that even in our hard times there are blessings. In return some of my guests will be posting my writing on gratitude on their sites. I would encourage you all to go to their blogs and YouTube channels after reading their posts on my site. At the end of the month I will post a spreadsheet of all of my guest posters so you can easily access their work. I have learned so much from the people in my educational circles and I hope that you will as well.