I hope I am not the only one who believes that Thanksgiving week might just be one of the best weeks of the year. A short week at work and an opportunity to shared good times with loved ones on Thursday. Better than that, it’s an opportunity to take an inventory of what really matters and what gratitude really looks like.
As a practice, gratitude can be hard. It can be difficult to look at the world we live in and really reflect on how some of the good things we see have come to be. More than anything, gratitude requires us to be attentive, reflective and intentional. It’s not enough to just live in the moments in life, it means more to take a step back and understand how those moments came about and give thanks for them.
The heart of the gratitude I have has to begin with my family. God has blessed me with two families. The one I was raised in and the one I am raising now. Growing up on the south side of Troy, I grew up with an abundance of love. My parents were attentive and accessible. Mom was generous with warm hugs and encouragement and Dad was usually willing to play baseball in the vacant lots across the sheet.
Now, I have my own family. With the youngsters I have at home, I have learned that my children are the best teachers of attentiveness. Every day, I am peppered with questions, many of which require me to enter their fascinating and whimsical world. There are good-hearted juvenile jokes, stories of made up adventures and recollections of what was learned. All these are relayed with the familiar refrain of, “Guess what, Daddy?”
I am also grateful for the town I live in. A few years ago, my aunt on my father’s side of the family gave me a family genealogy. It proved what I already knew: the Lutz family has been around this town for generations. I have often wondered what it would be like to move away, but there is something that makes it difficult. Some of it is family, but some of it is this town. It’s hard to leave a place that ends up being a large part of who you are.
My mother still reminds me that as a preschooler, I pretty much knew the name of every street in town. From my perspective, how could you not know? Every street was decked out in those sharp green and white embossed steel street signs. By the way, there are still a few those of around if you know where to look.
I remember as a youngster, my father took me to my first city council meeting. I was honored, as I was able to meet Mayor Campbell. To see democracy in action was pretty amazing. Later in high school, we were assigned to attend a city council meeting. I made it a habit to attend as many as I could. I was always impressed with how Mr. Lohrer, who served as council president, would always take the time and explain the difference between an ordinance and resolution. If he did it once, he did it a million times.
In college, I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions I could ever make up to that point: what was I going to do with my life. With some divine intervention, I was called to learn public administration at Wright State. The education I learned there while still being a part of this community is something I will always be grateful for. I was able to take that education and actually work for the city in their planning and zoning department. As a young adult right out of graduate school, Mr. Dando, Mr. Anderson and Mayor Jenkins all took a chance on me and I will always be grateful for that.
All of these reflections has led me to a powerful conclusion, one of the greatest things I am grateful for is my home. The love of family that made my home a warm and safe place and a wonderful community that made my home a beautiful place to be.
William (Bill) Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.