Annual Thankgiving Day Letter – 2009

That very special day has once again arrived – the day when Americans stop to reflect on all that they are thankful for. I continue to wish I did a better job of living this day out 365 days per year, if not for the repeated supply of turkey, at least for the heart of gratitude it would represent. I am trying. This year is a particularly special Thanksgiving Day, but of course they all are. For some of you this may be the first time reading one of my Thanksgiving Day letters; others have been reading these for years. Regardless, I will start off my list by expressing thanksgiving that there are people out there willing to read my musings, tantrums, and otherwise peculiar perspectives. I enjoy writing from time to time, and it has been fun to interact with some of you this year.

I am thankful for my wife and family, and I mean that in a much more profound sense than the normal obligatory expression. My wife is my helpmate and best friend, and over the last 8+ years of marriage I have learned in convincing fashion how blessed I am to have someone who loves me as she does. She truly is a saint to have put up with me, and I am thankful for her for far too many reasons to itemize here. My children are the textbook embodiment of the lesson that the apple does not fall far from the tree – Mitchell sharing my extraordinary case of “obsessive-compulsive disorder” (though I reiterate that I find nothing disorderly about it), and Sadie sharing my deep and abiding love for food. Seeing myself in my children is a fascinating thing. But seeing them grow and develop as their own people, with their own personalities and own identities, is just too much fun. These kids are God’s handiwork – hysterically funny, cute enough to be edible, and sweet enough to be angels. Thanksgiving, indeed.

I am thankful this year that Presidential terms in our country end after four years, and Congressional terms end after two years. Nuff’ said.

I am thankful for the San Jacinto mountains that surround the Coachella Valley where my vacation home is in Palm Desert. That mountainous backdrop blended into the deep blue sky of the desert is a sight to behold. I am thankful for the sunset behind Catalina Island as I drive home on Coast Highway each night from the office. I am thankful for the Pacific Ocean view that serves as wallpaper out my office window, and also serves to remind me that I did not get on this planet by myself. I am thankful for the way the sun hits my front lawn on Sunday mornings when I go out to grab the newspaper. And I am thankful for the drive from Fashion Island to south Laguna Beach, where atheism makes no sense whatsoever.

I am thankful for the plethora of mentors and friends God has put in my life. The memory of my late father stays with me each and every day, and obviously no one will ever influence me to the extent that he did. But having lost him at the age of 21, I have not been forced to advance through the adult years of my life without people to look up to. God has put true men of character and accomplishment in my life, and they have shaped me and influenced me in ways I can not begin to describe. I truly believe that friends like Brian Tong, Mike Maclane, Andrew Sandlin, Jim Birchfield, and so many others have been more than just “comrades” for me; they have been “mentors”. I am honored to have them in my life.

I am thankful for my career and calling. How rare it is that someone can actually spend their life doing something they adore doing. But in my case, the reason for thanksgiving goes even deeper. Not only do I get to do what I love doing every day, but I get to do it for clients whom I really love doing it for. I am thankful to work with the people I do, as somehow, some way, I have been blessed with clientele that seem to appreciate what we do, express their appreciation frequently, and have extended us the faith and confidence we need to do our jobs. I have clients who I consider to be among the most remarkable people I have ever met in my life – WWII POW’s, Vietnam vets, self-made multi-millionaires before age 35, retired school teachers, philanthropists, champions of industry, world-renowned scuba instructors, Constitutional law experts, architects, civic leaders, book authors, pastors, doctors, entrepreneurs, grandparents, great-grandparents, new parents, and just about everything in between. I learn from my clients each and every day. The lessons of capitalism are reinforced up close and personal every day for me, as I get to see a mural of what hard work, sacrifice, disciplined investing, innovation, and persistence can do. I work with the American dream. My clients transcend the typical and expected human need for mere financial oversight (though we are happy to provide that); my clients are impressive people. And I am one financial advisor who is constantly looking to be impressed by people. I have found it in my roster of clientele. And for that, I am unbelievably thankful.

I am not sure that any of this makes any sense at all without expressing gratitude for God having given me the new life, and that life, abundantly. I am only able to see the family and friends and vocational blessings in my life because God gave me eyes to see. I have done plenty in my life to blind out the gifts I have, and I truly feel that as I get older I am getting more and more capable of seeing and appreciating what I have. I believe that God having taken off the blinders and enabled me to see Him, and see His handiwork, is the ultimate cause for Thanksgiving in my life. This year more than any other, I am just so incredibly thankful.

I could go literally go on and on all day, but there are kids to play with and things to do. There will be turkey to eat, and there is a Cowboys game to watch. I am thankful that I am doing a better job at living life each day, and not missing all the things that make life what it is. I still have work to do here, no doubt, but I am enjoying life in a way right now that I never thought possible. Morning in America. Thankgiving, indeed.