I left the room I am sleeping in at the cabin I am staying in up at Lake Tahoe at 4:00 am to have some coffee, do a little work, and draft these annual reflections, and ultimately to get some reading done before the calvary awakens at 6:00 or 6:30. I confess part of me was also motivated to escape the torture of a 17-month old baby’s ongoing “expressions of emotion”. But if this isn’t Thanksgiving I don’t know what is: Within five minutes of me leaving the noise chamber of the cabin where little Graham was putting on his vocal show, a little 4-year old pumpkin named Sadie appeared, dressed in her Gobble-Gobble Thanksgiving jammies, needing some loves from daddy after a bad dream about someone named “Ursula”. I now type on the couch in the den with my little baby girl cuddled up next to me fast asleep, and I wonder if I even have to type anything else. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.
Sadie is just 1/4 of the joy I live with each day, the other members being the aforementioned baby boy, Graham, my almost seven-year old first-grader, Mitchell, and the mother of all three, Joleen. I am aware of how cliche it is to focus your gratitude each year on your wife and kids, but if the shoe fits, wear it. These four people are the most special people in my life, and I could not be more grateful to have them in particular as my family. I do not merely mean that I am blessed to have three children, or even three healthy children, or even three healthy beautiful children; I mean even more specifically that I am blessed to have Mitchell, Sadie, and Graham. I never could have dreamed that little munchkins could possess such individuality, creativity, and heart. They are more blessing than one guy can take, and usually more work than one guy can take too, which is why the fact that my wife is the world’s greatest mother comes in pretty handy (she does that as a double-shift with being an extremely devoted and committed wife). I hit the immediate family lottery, and I hope they all know how much they have blessed my life.
I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving this year in Lake Tahoe with some extended family as well (aunt, uncle, and cousin and her husband and two kiddos). This is my first time in Lake Tahoe since the summer of 2000, though I came twice per year from 1994 until 2000. It is a special place, if for no other reason than the fact that any idiot could sit and stare at it for hours on end – it is that breathtakingly beautiful (the backdrop of the mountains it is set in really prime the pump). It also is a special place for me personally, having enjoyed a plethora of trips here with my dad, with the church of my childhood, with old friends, with siblings, etc. We get our moments in life at particular venues, and for me Tahoe is an especially meaningful venue. I am blessed to now have so many of these momentous venues that I could walk around every day filming a Lifetime movie or something, but in all seriousness, God is good. Otherwise He wouldn’t have made Lake Tahoe.
Nobody likes reading how much I love my work, and I already told my clients yesterday in my weekly market commentary how thankful I am for all of them, as well as for the management team in my company, as well as for all my partners and team members that have made The Bahnsen Group what it is. I don’t know why people are so averse to hearing about the joys of someone else’s career (calling), but I will be sensitive to it. I get to do well in my life by doing good, and I get to do it in an era where the need for those who will be a purveyor of financial wisdom and sanity is greater than it has ever been. It is impossible to see the state of the economy, the job market, and what a generations’s worth of atrocious ideology has done to the concept of contentment in the marketplace, and NOT be overwhelmed with Thanksgiving. And so I am.
Well everyone is thankful for their family and career (well, at least for some of their family and for someone’s career). But what else makes the list in 2011 which is unique and special to my life?
- I am thankful for my weekly men’s group (Brian, Mike, Luis, and Kirt) who are dear friends, mentors, sports fans, and fellow co-laborers with me in the cause of figuring out this thing called life.
- I am thankful for St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and Pastor Rich Kannwischer. The church had the good sense to be built in a gorgeous neighborhood back when suburban communities still thought churches belonged in neighborhoods. Six decades later I had the good sense to move into that neighborhood, and now I get to see it modeled how a church is supposed to minister to the community in which it resides. I did not know it was possible.
- I am thankful to be a part of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, where I do serve and work and contribute, but where I also have been blessed to meet some of my dearest friends, if by friends you mean, “passionate people who give a damn about this country and the direction it is headed”. It is a treat to be a part of it, and I look forward to decades more of involvement with this fine group of patriots.
- I am thankful that I live just 90 minutes away from Palm Springs/Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage/La Quinta, as it gives me that special getaway venue where decompression is a reality, not a mere concept.
- I am thankful for Coach Lane Kiffin and the spirit of Troy which says in no unbridled terms, “you can persecute us in this most obscene and intellectually unfathomable ways possible, but you can not keep us from winning, and maintaining our spot atop the college football universe”. Coach Lane Kiffin.
- I am thankful for the restaurants in New York City, where I go almost as much to feed my soul as I do my never-ending appetite.
- I am thankful for books, even the 53 that are in a pile at my home library right now for immediate reading. I know I will get caught up some day.
- I am thankful for friends. I may be an introverted person, and I may sometimes be a cranky person, and maybe I shouldn’t refer to so many people out there as “God’s little clowns”, but I am thankful for the dear friends in my life. We don’t see each other very much any more, but they are out there, and I hit the friend lottery.
- I am thankful for Bob, Alex, and Randy, without whom I do not know where I would be. Bill has helped too. We are a lucky band of brothers.
- And I am thankful for the God who made me, loved me, saved me, and redeemed me, and who now works in me each and every day to make me the man He wants me to be. I am undeserving of His interest in my life, and I am a grateful recipient of His love. I do not have to wonder if He is faithful to me because I am faithful to Him, for I know that would have crumbled many moons ago. I live, and type, and soak in the life I have, because of His faithfulness.
Thank you all for bearing with another annual edition. I could have said so much more. We all can. But somewhere in between all the items on a list, and all the moments I choose to dwell on, there does exist adequate Thanksgiving for the bounty that we enjoy. Living in these moments, and finding that Thanksgiving, is the joy of my life. Happy Thanksgiving.