So Many Things to Be Thankful For, Even the Crap

Rachel's Thankful List (verbatim)

  1. I am thankful to have Mommy.
  2. I am thankful to have Dianne.
  3. I am thankful that I have friends.
  4. I am thankful for the clean air.
  5. I am thankful for my house and food.
  6. I am thankful for the electricity.
  7. I am thankful for my bed.
  8. I am glad there are second chances.
  9. I am thankful for my school.
  10. I am thankful for my hearing aids - I would be learning sign language without them.
  11. I am thankful for all the clothes that I have.
  12. I am thankful that the dreams I made came or is coming true.
  13. I am thankful that I have the ability to do many things.
  14. I am thankful that we are all happy, well-fed, healthy and together.
  15. I am thankful for the toys and books that I own.
  16. I am thankful for our family's warmth when needed.
  17. I am thankful for the extra classes my parents payed for to have fun.
  18. I am thankful for my dollter, Sarah Jane Kane (American Girl Doll)
  19. I am thankful for the privacy of my room.
  20. I am thankful for not only electricity but technology.
  21. I am thankful for the fun stuff I get to do.
  22. I am thankful for music.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would write a little bit about what I have been thankful for this year. It seems to me that when the holidays start to come around, everyone gets wrapped up in trying to figure out who is eating where, who’s cooking what, who’s avoiding who, what am I going to wear, when is my mammogram scheduled for. Alright, maybe we all aren’t thinking about that last one. But it does seem that we tend to lose the meaning of the holiday.

It is tradition in my family that while I’m cooking and slaving over the stove, everyone has to make a list of the things they are thankful for during the year (i.e., a tv so we can watch the Macy’s parade. You might think it's petty to be thankful for something like that, but do you know how many people DON'T have that?) Rachel's is above. Which, by the way, she got no guidance or tips on. Those are purely her own thoughts. I loved it because as much as she's still a little girl her list has depth. What child says she is thankful for technology? Or warmth when it is needed?

I make a list too, in between basting the turkey and whipping the potatoes. Mine always ends up looking grease splattered and stained. It’s not pretty, but it’s full of meaning. Inevitably, I always end up adding a last minute item on the list that reads “I am thankful that the dinner is done cooking, I didn’t burn the gravy, and now we can eat.” Something I am perpetually grateful for. Thank God my mother taught me how to cook. I think my family is grateful to her for that as well. I think they should be thankful to ME for paying close attention to what she was doing all those years that she did the cooking. But I guess that will occur to them someday.

I had an extraordinarily rough year this year. Although, now that the year is coming to an end and I look back, many good things came from those rough times. So my list this year will be quite extensive for the things I am grateful for. I’d like to share some of those things with you in this blog. (I have to leave some things out for my stuffing-covered list that I read to my family during dinner. Sorry folks. Unless, of course, you want to invite us all over to YOUR house for Thanksgiving and you can be included in on the good ones I list for them? No? Any takers? I’ll bring dessert! Stott’s Pie! Come on!)

2009 The Shit and the Potatos That Grew From It

One Potato

I had a rough, rough, rough year this year professionally. Albeit, some of you had a rougher year by losing your jobs, getting laid off due to this tough economy. To you, I say that better things are coming your way. When one door closes, another one opens. I’ve been laid off three times in my life and every time it happened, it was devastating but something better always came along. So keep the faith, all of you that are unemployed and struggling to find a job. Try to remember that things could always be worse.

Without going into too much detail about the rough, rough year I had this year at work, I hope I can wrap it up into a brief paragraph. If I can’t, well, you have nothing better to do than to read this blog anyway. So stop rushing me. Here goes. A woman was hired into my department and the day she started, her goal was to wreak havoc. I can’t go into too much detail because I never know who is reading this blog. But she did something at work that she wasn’t supposed to. She got in trouble for it. In retaliation she filed complaints on everyone else, pointing the finger at everyone else around her, hoping that her offenses would be taken more lightly. There were investigations that followed, both internally, and externally with the FBI. I was interrogated several times and had to submit a statement. Lots of innocent people were involved in what turned out to be quite the scandal. The end result was my director at the time found another job and left; a co-worker took a lay-off that was offered to him and he too left; another co-worker transferred to another department. The woman that caused all the drama was terminated but threatened to fight it, meaning the saga was never going to end.

If there could be anything that I could be grateful for that came out of this experience is that she ultimately lost her job and is now in another state, far, far away, where she can no longer hurt anyone I know professionally. The experience was so emotionally draining that, although we were all friends before this woman joined our group, none of us speak anymore. I’m not grateful for that by any means. But I know that time will heal the wounds that were inflicted during that rough time and maybe someday all of us can look back at this unfortunate series of events and possibly laugh.

I am thankful that I still have my job and I came out relatively unscathed. I am thankful that the others are happy and have moved on with their careers. There was a time when everything was up in the air and I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, whether I would get fired, whether I would get transferred to another department; whether the nightmare would ever end. But my new boss has been great to work for. I’m thankful that I actually ended up on my feet.

Two Potato

I had a horrendous accident 5 years ago while on the first day of my vacation in Cape Cod. The story is too long to tell here. But a few details were that I was stopped at a yield onto a highway and was broad-sided by a vehicle. Rachel was sitting behind me in the car and was hit as well. Our car was pushed sideways into guardrails. Once the cars settled, Rachel, who was 3 at the time, started screaming. I tried to turn around to see what happened to her but couldn’t turn due to being pinned between the door and the console. Plus I had a sharp pain in my back that prevented me from turning around. The rear view mirror had fallen off the broken windshield from the impact so I couldn’t see her through that either. She was screaming and I couldn’t see what had happened to her. I pictured the worst. Her arm severed off, her head bashed in, my imagination ran wild. To make a long story short, she had a few minor cuts and bruises and escaped being seriously hurt because of her car seat. I always had my car seats and any car she drove in inspected by the CT Safe Kids Clinics at the hospital and was thankful that I did. It saved her life. I did a news segment on TV about it because CT Safe Kids asked me to when they found out about the accident. If doing a segment on the news got only one parent to have their car seat inspected and saved only one child, it was worth doing it.

I, on the other hand, had to be extricated from the car. They tried using the jaws of life but to no avail. They had to cut the roof off the car and extricate me from the roof while being on a backboard. The nearest hospital was an hour away. I rode in the ambulance to the hospital not knowing my fate. The longest ride of my life.

Making a long story short, for five years I endured physical therapy, shots, emotional anguish from reliving the horror of the accident, I lost time from work, and I live with pain every day due to that accident. That’s the very short story.

Why am I bringing up an accident that happened five years ago? THIS year we finally went to court to sue the man who actually hit us. We had to go to Cape Cod, MA five years to the day of the accident and testify against him. We knew for years that we had to go to court, but it wasn’t until the week before, that my lawyer told us we couldn’t bring kids into the courtroom. Stressful to say the least, especially since Rachel had never stayed away from me for more than one night, I wasn’t about to leave her indefinitely while we went to Cape Cod for an indeterminate amount of time for the trial! Frantically, I called the Cape Cod YMCA Camp in Hyannis. With Rachel, I can’t just drop her off at any old place just like that. Staff have to be instructed on how her hearing aids work, etc. But they took her in and took great care of her. I am thankful for them and their staff for making accommodations for Rachel. She loved it! And I was able to focus on the trial of the century knowing she was being well cared for.

The trial itself was a nightmare. I had to relive all the gory details of the accident, which traumatized me all over again. I had to go through all my medical history worrying about whether I was going to remember everything. In a word it was torture. The trial lasted 4 days. A jury of my peers were tasked with deciding whether the man who hit me was negligent or not. I was stopped at the yield so it was never a question of whether I was at fault. The lawyer for the other side conceded that. Once both lawyers rested, the jury of my peers were handed a stack load of papers to review in the jury room to reach a decision on whether or not: someone speeding through an intersection that had a blinking yellow light who didn’t slam on his brakes because there were no skid marks on the road, who lost control of his vehicle, was negligent or not. The jury left the room with specific instructions and what they were to do and not to do. Fifteen minutes later, they came back in, announcing that they, the jury, did not find the driver of the other car negligent. They took fifteen minutes to decide my fate. Granted, the man that hit me was from Cape Cod, I wasn’t. The jury, comprised of Cape Cod residents, viewed us as tourists. And granted, that the woman in the back row in the jury box slept through most of it. And granted, the insurance company lawyer could afford an accident reconstructionist and hired the Chief of the Quincy Medical Center at $500 per hour to testify against us.

Bottom line, we lost. It was a painful experience that I hope I NEVER have to go through again. I’m not sure what was worse. The actual accident, or the trial.

But here is what I am thankful for this year from that experience. 1) That we are all alive and able to tell the tale. There were times while I was trapped in that car, smelling leaking gas, with responders not being able to get me out, that I didn’t think I was going to make it. I had a talk with God and promised that I would get my priorities in order if he pulled me through that event. I can tell you that in the time I sat there while people worked around me to try to get me out and on the ride to the hospital not knowing if I had internal injuries that were life-threatening or not, I had plenty of time to think. Before this accident, my priorities were different. Such as I worked hard on renovating my house. I focused on my career. Friends were disposable and exchangeable. This accident changed all that for me. In the moments that I thought I might be dying, I never once thought about the things I had to do to my house, or my house at all for that matter. No material things came into mind. I never once thought about my career or the promotion I was trying so desperately to get. All I DID think about were the people in my life. That if this was it, if I was dying, how much they would miss me and how much I would miss them. It was people’s faces that came into my mind, not the things I thought were important before. That all made me have a new outlook on life. They say that near death experiences change people. This one surely did! Now, if I have a paintbrush in my hand and a friend calls me to go out and do something, I drop the paintbrush. The house can wait. It’s not important. The friend is. Now I am trying to cultivate friendships with people that understand that life can be taken away in a fraction of a second.

I am thankful for Dianne who was also in the accident with us. She not only survived the accident itself, but got Rachel out of the car successfully during the accident to show me that Rachel was alright. We survived having to go through all of the heartache that the accident brought on for both of us. She survived the trial with me, which at times it would have been real easy to point the finger at each other, but we survived that as well, coming out the other end closer for having had to go through the experience together. I am thankful that I had her to laugh with, to cry with, when nothing was going right or in our favor. For having her give me no other option than to get back in my car and drive again when emotionally and psychologically I didn’t think I would ever drive again. Although we both got physically hurt and will live with the pain for the rest of our lives, I am thankful that we both still can walk, talk, do the rake dance, and do things with my kids. When you’re sitting in a car not being able to feel your legs or feet, believe me, you appreciate all those things that weren’t taken away in that instant. I could be very angry indeed over the outcome of the trial. I could be very angry over the amount of money and time this all took up. But instead, since it is Thanksgiving, I am choosing to be thankful for all the experiences it gave to me. It changed my life, just like any other traumatic event does. But it also taught me a whole heck of lot. And for that I’m grateful!

Three Potato, Four

I am thankful for the friends that came into my life this year all so briefly and then exited again. As disruptive as these quick relationships are, they are all learning experiences. Some harder to understand than others, but I am thankful that we were able to reconnect, even if only for a short amount of time. In those short times, they gave me a wealth of material for my blog and stories to tell for the rest of my life. So I am grateful to you for that, in an off kind of way.

I am grateful to Facebook, to which I have become completely addicted. Facebook opened up so many more doors for me to make new friends and to release my creative side. I am even thankful to those that have deleted me on Facebook. They taught me how to be more sensitive to how to go about deleting a person. As much as it is frustrating at times, that people still let you down, that it can be trying at times, I still am thankful for this new social networking tool because, let’s face it, most of you reading this right now would not be, if it wasn’t for Facebook. Can I get an Amen on that!

Generally speaking, I am thankful for my children who bring me light every day. I am thankful to God for keeping them safe and out of harm’s way every day. I am thankful for the food that is on the table every night so that my kids and I don’t have to starve. This all might seem cliché, but shouldn’t we be thankful EVERY day instead of just one day a year when we’re forced to make a list or pull something off the top of our heads so we can hurry up and eat turkey?

You agree? Ok then. Thanksgiving Day is over and I’ll start. Today I am thankful for this blog. I am thankful to those of you reading it. I would be even more thankful if you clicked on some of the ads so I can get paid! But whatever, that’s secondary. I am thankful today for all the wonderful feedback I have received on this blog. It makes me happy when I get comments that I have made someone laugh, or that I actually helped others, like the time I got a comment from a friend whose aging mother came alive when reading my “In My Little Town” because it brought back memories for her. Or the fact that I can write about something and have it trigger thoughts within you of what you experienced. Or compliments containing phrases like you think I am “an excellent writer”, or “one of the best writers I know” and others. I am thankful for those comments and they touch me deeply. I am thankful for every single comment because each one has told me something about myself, or has told me something about you. And that can never be a bad thing.

My Kaneclusion is maybe you, too, should make a list, whether privately or something you would like to share with others. It helps to remind us that with all the trials and tribulations that we deal with, there are always lessons to be learned, that quite possibly good things can spring from bad seeds. That life is good, as long as we are still breathing. This holiday, try to remember that you are fortunate to have your family there with you, for next year it might not be that way.

Here was my list:

1) I'm thankful for my family, for they made me who I am today. (So if you don't like me, blame THEM, not ME!) :-)

2) I'm thankful for having somewhere to lay my head every night instead of having to be out in the cold. Even though it's a pig sty right about now. It's MY pig sty! OUR pig sty! With a whole lotta love in it! I wouldn't change a thing. (But if you got me a maid for Christmas, I wouldn't protest.)

3) I'm thankful for being able to hug my Mia goodbye before spending her first Thanksgiving away from me EVER in her life. Sniff! There's a hole in my heart that not even stuffing can fill. :-( She's here in spirit. And speaking of Spirits...where's that bottle?

4) I'm thankful for my little kitchen helper, Rachel, who diligently plucked away at stuffing bread, taking a break only to jitterbug with me in the kitchen to "Rockin' Around the Xmas Tree" (premature, yes, but she wanted to listen to Xmas music - I try to keep the help happy.) Btw, the girl can dance! Rachel is pretty good too. (And no, I hadn't hit the bottle yet.) She also did the Cranberry sauce, opening the can for the very first time with a can opener. Remember how hard that was when you were a kid? She did a great job. She also made the butter pickles for Dianne, a Thanksgiving tradition for her that makes her happy.

5) I'm thankful for my job. In an economy where others have not been so fortunate, I am grateful to MPTN for providing me an income that allows for the finer enjoyments of life. This year alone it provided experiences like trips to Las Vegas, Cape Cod, and Disney World. I couldn’t do any of those things if I wasn’t working. I am eternally grateful for that. It also provides us with health care, not something I take for granted. Albeit, stressful at times, and comes with a huge responsibility every day, I couldn't imagine losing my position. I am extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity and this path to go on in life.

6) I'm thankful for "Glee". I'm also thankful for Tivo, so I don't have to miss any shows. I'm thankful for the comfort of laying on the couch and having the ability to laugh. What a luxury that is that we take for granted!

7) I'm thankful for everyone in my house waking up Thanksgiving morning, as opposed to the alternative.

8) I'm thankful for forgiveness, that I can forgive those that have judged me, persecuted me, talked smack about me, who don't really know me or have not really gotten to know me. I forgive those who have hurt me with their actions, words and/or their silence. I forgive those that pretend to be caring individuals but when push comes to shove, they really don't care about others, just their own causes and agendas. In this same vein, I'm also thankful for those who have forgiven ME for MY trespasses. Next year I'll work on the forgetting part of the forgive and forget equation. Unfortunately, I never forget.

9) I'm thankful that we decided not to go to the Macy's parade this year and instead stayed home and watched it on the big screen, in the comfort of our own living room in our comfy jammies, with a cozy fire. Watching the tv, is it wrong that I expected to see Balloon Boy in the parade?

10) I'm thankful for Julia Child, who made it ok to have a glass of wine while cooking. And slightly off topic, what the heck did Carly Simon do to herself? Holy crap! Barely recognizable in the parade.

11) I'm thankful for my family's continued excellent health. Barring this week's flu, how fortunate I have been! I am thankful that my kids are healthy. Both my children are in good physical shape. My daughter Rachel outran all the kids in her class for the mandatory gym class stats test, of which she was very proud. She is also excelling in the jump roping class she takes. You may not think this is something, but when was the last time you jump roped? I tried it in my driveway with her and I almost broke my knees on the first jump! She can do all the double-dutch whatevers, the four point jump in and out, twist and turns and hopping on one foot. She played soccer and was an excellent forward for the team. Even though they lost every game but the last one, she was happy to be on the team and playing and it was wonderful to see her never give up, even when she got hurt twice in one game, she still kept going. She won a patch for that game because of her persistence. One of Rachel’s biggest accomplishments this year of which I am grateful for is that she learned how to ride a bike. It was touch and go there for a while. Lots of tears and frustration. But once I stopped crying, it seemed like all of a sudden, she got on her bike, held her balance for 3-4 rotations of the peddle and off she went! I am thankful for then getting a brand new bike and being able to bike ride with her.

My daughter is hearing impaired and suffers from progressive hearing loss. It is always a good year when she can hear and has not lost more hearing. She got new hearing aids this year and she loves them. The cruel twist of fate is that she is very athletic and could probably play any sport she chose and would excel in it. But because a blow to her head could cause her to have more hearing loss, I have to keep her back. I struggle with this every year when soccer comes around and I have to make the decision of whether she can play or not, based on whether I think she will be clobbered in the head by another girl or not. She loves soccer. How can I make that decision? So this year, I am thankful for a successful year for her in soccer, that she didn’t get hit in the head and my decision to let her play was a good one. As with any child with special needs, all these accomplishments seem to be more prevalent than others. As much as she has been taught that she can do ANYTHING she wants to in life and that her disability will not keep her back, it’s still remarkable that she does all these things. Sometimes I forget she has a disability, which is a blessing all unto itself.

Mia turned into a teenager this year. Thirteen. And with that came the necessary body changes that adolescence brings. She’s tall, my height, and when I talk to her now, I am face to face with her instead of looking down at the little girl I once knew. But even though she’s my height and still growing, the light in her eyes and the smile are the same as the toddler that stood up in her crib with arms extended for me to pick her up. When I hug her she is no longer a skinny little string bean, but rather a young lady that now has muscle, and curves where there weren’t any before. I’m so proud of her for embracing the beginning of what the rest of us women know we have to endure for years. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. It was a big year for Mia in this respect. Coupled with breaking up with her boyfriend, unlike me who was a blubbering idiot over it, she handled it with the utmost of grace, poise, and maintains a friendship with this young man who I still love and adore. I am thankful that it wasn’t traumatic for her and that she is learning how to handle the breakups of relationships (because they happen!) in such a positive way.

Both my girls are beautiful inside and out and I'm so proud of them. Blessed!

My health, which is secondary to my kids, is great so far. I had a scare earlier this year but the test results came back negative and all is fine. I have had the pleasure of looking at photographs via facebook of other people my age that I graduated with and find that I’m aging quite well. Thank ya’ Jesus! Although, with all the tough things that happened this year I did age a bit. I now have “laugh lines”. They are not wrinkles. If you say I have wrinkles you will no longer be able to read my blog. They are laugh lines. And I’m glad I have them because it shows on my face how often I laugh. The deeper they get the more I’m enjoying life. So there, old age! Take that!

As for everyone else in my family, all is good on the health front as well. I could tell you about all their ailments that I’ve had to listen to over the past year but I respect their privacy. Plus, I half-listened anyway. If they didn’t end up in a hospital, all is good, right? That’s how I look at it. If they weren’t transported by Lifestar, then how am I supposed to remember the stories?

We welcomed a new addition to our family this year, Janiah Kane-Butkiewicz-Williams-Vasquez-Jones-Smith! Wait until she has to fill in the bubble sheet for tests! I am thankful that she is healthy, beautiful and has come into this world to alleviate Jayden from being an only child.

12) I'm thankful today to the person who invented the electric hand mixer. And to the person who invented the pop up timer. And the people who invented paper towels? Do they ever get thanked? I think not. Anything that makes my life easier and not harder I am thankful for!

13) I'm thankful for pineapple cream pie from Stott's. And speaking of piece of pie, I'm thankful for world peace.

What? There isn't world peace?


You mean there are people not with their families today because of war?

Yes...and you're an idiot.

I've asked you not to call me an idiot...moron.

Must we fight like this in front of the kids? It is a holiday you know.

You're right. Peace.

Peace. Now eat your piece of pie.

(If only war was this simple to fix. I am thankful to our military.)

14) I'm thankful for Rachel's kindness. She pointed out yesterday the man on the street, holding his sign, "Happy Tkanksgiving. I will work for food" and said to me, "Mom, can't you give him work?" With regret, I said no, but showed her how to make a plate of food for a stranger and bring it to him. Wish I could remember to do these things every day.

15) I'm thankful for my monthly poker games. I started this 3 yrs ago as an outlet for myself, to have some time to escape from my otherwise hectic, stressful world. My idea originally was to assemble a group of diverse women who could get together to socialize, eat and share recipes, relate to one another, laugh, and if the circumstances warranted, cry together and offer support. I yearned for a way that I could leave work, legal issues and family drama behind and be wrapped up in something, if only for a couple hours a month. On the whole, it has been just that for me. Although the faces have changed over time, regardless of who is playing, poker with women is a riot. And the more mistakes the better! It gives us all something to laugh at together. Diversity is what makes the conversation flow; but poker is what brings us all together on one playing field. It's supposed to be light-hearted. Although people have been left behind and not included again for annoyng things like name-calling, giving continual grammar lessons when they weren't warranted, inability to commit from month to month. Things of that nature. It's supposed to be fun and it's not fun when people are getting picked on or are being belittled in any way. There is definitely good natured ribbing. But sometimes the ribbing goes too far. I was called the "poker nazi" one too many times one night and we haven't seen that woman again since. Of course, like any other game, there are rules, but it's not meant to be competitive. And if it gets that way, or if people start nitpicking at each other, and it stops being fun, then it becomes stressful and unenjoyable.

Typically, I have had the best time with some of these ladies over the last 3 yrs and I'm grateful for the laughs and conversations that have taken place. In my humble opinion, losing a pocketful of change at poker is some of the best money well spent. I'm appreciative to all who have come and gone through the years, and to those that know what it truly is all about.

16) I'm thankful for my friends. Dianne, who is always loyal, level-headed, quick-witted, and all-in-all my best friend. And my other friends, Jocelyne, Sheila (who puts up with me every day!), Mrs. B (she knows why!), Marian, Dominic, Dan and Bonnie (Red Cup Society Members), Carolyn, Sandy and Jodie who I knew when I was just a teenager and have reconnected with after many, many years and have found them to be delightful women. I'm sure I'm leaving people out. Please don't be insulted. It's not like I'm at the Oscar's or anything. If you've made my life better somehow in any small way, believe me, I am thankful to you.

Ok, that concludes my list. Now back to being an ingrate for the rest of the year!

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