Annual Thanksgiving Day Reflection

Once again I have forgotten how many years I have been doing this, but once again we come to one of my favorite days of the year (perhaps my actual favorite itself) – the blessed day of Thanksgiving. Not a day goes by that I am not more and more aware of how much I have to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to pull all of those day’s thoughts together and reflect on the blessings and mercies we live in and with on a daily basis.

I believe all of us have abundant reasons to be thankful, but I can not make your list for you – I can only articulate what is on my list and in my heart. But I do know this – no one living in the United States of America has any justification for omitting our great coountry from their list. A year like this year where so many people expressed their desire (either explicitly or implicitly) to see a different America than the one our forefathers intended, and a different America from the one that glorifies and exalts prosperity and industry, is an easy year to forget the blessings we have in this nation. But as much as I detest the Presidency of Barack Obama, I will say that he came into office without machine guns and tanks, and he will leave office without machine guns and tanks. The list of countries on earth that can not even say this would take up a page. Yes, Barack Obama and the 50.1% of people in our country voting with no regard for principle or country do discourage me, but their right to be the way they are is not one I would trade away (though they might). We live in a country that has problems, and those problems can be fixed, and for that I am grateful.

In a man’s work is often found his calling, and in his calling is found the essence of his existential drive. I am blessed beyond words for clarity in who God called me to be, and what He wants me doing in my professional life. My business is in a lot of ways my life, meaning that God intended it to be a primary source of my identity and ambition. The joy I derive from working as a Wealth Manager is not something I take for granted, and neither is the blessing I have in my actual clients. I love the capital markets because I love capitalism, and every day of my life I get to juxtapose the capital markets with real life people who have real life dreams and goals. This is the finest business in the world and somehow God saw fit not just for me to be in it, but to make me love it, and even, I dare say, to make me good at it. Thanksgiving abounds.

I talk about friends every year and I mean it every year. Whether it be my long-time book club friends, Eric and Aaron, or my Wednesday morning crew, Brian, Mike, and Luis, or my small group family, Rich & Kelly, Rob & Leslie, John and Michelle, and Scott & Brenda, or my work buddies, Tom & Mark, or my closest client friends, Mark, Tracy, Jim, and Karen, or my Vegas buddies, Gary, Neltz, Merv, and Bobby, or my CCL friends, Andrew, Brian, Jeff, and others, or my NY Morrell’s friends, Paul and Brian, or so many other groups and walks of life, I am a man rich with friends, rich with memories, and rich with quality people.

I am thankful for my brothers, Mike Dogg and JB, who have now been my friends for about 20 years in addition to being my brothers, and who BOTH joined me on my annual Vegas jaunt this year.

I am thankful for The Ritz, Orange County’s finest restaurant, and I am thankful for Pancake House on 17th Street, because they still allow my kids to walk through the door every Saturday morning. I am thankful for Cut inside the Palazzo in Las Vegas. I am thankful for the mutton chop at Keen’s Steakhouse in the city. I am especially thankful for San Pietro’s at 54th and Madison. Frankly, I am thankful for food, period, but particularly for the extraordinary dining experiences I get to enjoy throughout the year.

I am thankful this year that after two surgeries on both eyes I am able to see better than I have my entire life, and that God has seen fit to preserve these highly troubled corneas for now (and maybe forever). Had I been born in a different era, I would be completely blind, and that enough is reason for Thanksgiving. Being born in the 1970’s surely was better than being born in the 1870’s (or 1960’s for that matter) when it comes to modern day optical health. Thank you Dr. Cies, thank you Dr. Boxer-Wachler, and thank you God.

I am thankful for my two and a half year old son, Graham Andrew, who is the embodiment of all that is cute and precious in the whole world, all the while being a very “loud” and “active” little bundle of love. I am thankful for his future NFL or NBA career (well, at least some kids’s sports activities), and thankful that Joleen and I received this little guy when we did. He is a treasure.

I am thankful for my five and a half year old daughter, Sadie Patricia, who I may have to stop calling my “baby girl” one of these days (I will advise when I am ready). I am thankful for every single one of her 100+ freckles, and I am thankful for her cuddles, loves, and smiles. They do not come more precious.

And I am thankful for my firstborn, the almost eight years old Mitchell Gregory. I am thankful that he can teach most adults I know whatever they need to know about the history of the U.S Presidents, and I am thankful that he understands technology better than Joleen and I do. I am thankful for the spreadsheet he created me last month outlining his plans for a hedge fund, and I am thankful that he has such a truly sweet, tender heart.

But there is no Mitchell, Sadie, and Graham without the love of my life, my best friend, my helpmate, and my partner for life, Joleen. She is a remarkable spouse, partner, wife, and friend, and I thank God more than anything I have for the fact He gave me her. I am thankful for each of the 11 (soon to be 12) Thanksgiving holidays we have spent together, and I can not wait for the next 12, then the next 12, etc.

I am thankful to be a Trojan, especially in a year like this one. People who don’t understand how I could say something like that need not worry about it. You’re never going to get it. Fight on, Troy.

I am thankful for books, for authors, and for the ideas that have been penned into books by good authors. I am thankful that I have no risk of ever being bored in my life, for I have no chance of ever reading all I want to read.

I am thankful that Scottsdale, AZ is so close to Newport Beach, CA, and that the good citizens of Arizona would riot in the streets before they would pass an atrocity like Proposition 30.

I am thankful for the memories of my late dad, who I continue to miss and love each and every day. Truly.

I am thankful for the turkey I am going to make today, but I think I already said enough about food.

I am thankful for the peace I have in my soul, and the continually increasing peace God is granting me that I have always longed for. One can have all the blessings in their life they have always dreamed to have, yet have no peace. God has not failed to deliver in meeting the needs of my heart, and granting me increasing serenity year-by-year. I have a blessed life, with extraordinary friends and a special family. I am a sinner saved by grace, and I am a thankful member of God’s project to redeem this earth to Himself. I thank you all for reading my annual reflections, and I thank Abraham Lincoln for uttering these words, as special today as when he first penned them …

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”