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I'm going to bust this out elementary school style, because, well... I teach elementary school. So here we go:
<Note: This list is not in order of importance, but in order of logical flow.>
1. I'm thankful for my G-d. Ultimately, everything on this list comes back to Him.
2. I'm thankful for my job in so many ways.
- I'm thankful that I HAVE a job. So many people in the US (and around the world) don't right now, regardless of educational accomplishments. I do feel like a lot of the job crisis is caused by people being unwilling to "lower" themselves to a blue collar position, but that's not the point of this thankfulness. Either way, I have a job that pays the vast majority of my bills and pays me salary on top of that, not to mention the team of people who are paid to be at my disposal to help me with any little thing that could go wrong in my life right now.
- I am thankful for the amount of money that I make. According to American standards, I don't make very much money at all. Of course, that is excluding the thought that I don't have very many bills at all and that I'm debt-free (thanks to hard work, generous relatives, and the way I was brought up). But, comparing up the scale is the wrong way to look at things like that. To put it into perspective, I visited a website that shows you how you fare against the majority of adults in the world. Turns out, I'm in the 89th percentile for wealth. To be honest, that doesn't surprise me all that much, but it's such a change in how I've been thinking about my income that the number is like brakes screeching through my head. G-d has been so good to me... more than good... abundant even.
- I am thankful that G-d has put me in a job outside of the U.S. There is so much angst and strife there right now; every time I hear about it - OWS, another Obama scandal, everything we let happen to children, even Michael Jackson...still... - I am overwhelmed and disgusted. I'm so glad G-d has removed me to a situation where I feel it is okay that the lawmakers are ignoring my opinions. It is so freeing to know that the government of the country you're in is treating you just as it should. Not a day goes by without me being reminded of how G-d has provided for me in this way.
3. I am thankful for the beautiful children that I get to work with every day.
- Yes, I'm thankful for the ones who chuck things at my head... for many reasons:
- If they didn't chuck things at my head, I wouldn't be thankful for those who didn't.
- If they didn't chuck things at my head, I wouldn't be grateful for the people who didn't give up on me when I was just like them.
- If they didn't chuck things at my head, I wouldn't value it nearly as much when they finally understand and/or care about the material.
- If they didn't chuck things at my head, there wouldn't be people in the U.S. benefiting from my work literally all the way around the world from them.
- If they didn't chuck things at my head, G-d wouldn't be working in my life anywhere near the amount He is now.
- I'm thankful for my Special Education students (even though it pains me that they don't have an adequate program, catered to their specific needs)... also for many reasons:
- I spent most of my life worrying that I would end up with a Special Ed child. I didn't think I had the patience, strength, nor skill set to handle it. These children have proven me wrong.
- I have gotten to experience entirely different types of relationships by bonding with these children. I feel like I can usually contrive a decently accurate summary of a person based on one meeting with them This sounds arrogant, I know, but, those of you who know me know that that is simply one of the gifts G-d has given me. Unfortunately, I have a habit of letting that replace actual bonds and relationships with people. I cannot do that with my Special Ed students. I am constantly staring at them and analyzing their work, watching their every moves, desperate to understand what is happening in their heads.
- They have taught me the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. I strive every day to be more like them - honest with everyone, true to myself, unyielding in the pursuit of my passions, unashamed of my emotions... We undervalue these people, and it is a detriment to us.
- I'm thankful for my students who walk the line between "he's going to be amazing when he grows up," and "he's going to make a lot of people wonder about his childhood teachers when he grows up," because they keep my prayer life active and my eyes open.
- I'm thankful for my sweetest, most empathetic students, because they are my motivation for going to school each day, and theirs are the faces for which I search from the moment I get off my bus in the morning to the moment my bus passes suitable walking distance from the area apartments. My happiest Korean memories so far pertain to those children.
5. I am thankful for my teachers, professors, and mentors who put up with me, in spite of everything, and made efforts to set my faith on fire, to push me to recklessness, to embolden me to dream big and not back down from them. I would never be here without them.
6. I am thankful for my family, most of whom are all safely tucked in bed at our annual family Thanksgiving reunion.
- I am thankful that we have traditions that make holidays special enough to make me homesick.
- I am thankful that our parents cared enough to make long drives to bring us all together.
- I am thankful that my generation in my family value these bonds as well.
- I am thankful for the wonderful woman that my cousin David will be adding to my family on Saturday, and I am thankful that she has embraced these family bonds and welcomed me into her family just as much as I have tried to welcome her into mine.
- I am thankful for the strong Christian leadership that was brought to my family by my grandfather, and I am thankful for the legacy that he left me to have a basis for my own that I want to leave.
- I am thankful to be able to count my family members as some of my closest friends.
- I am thankful to have a friend that I am comfortable saying anything to, knowing that she will not judge me and that in the end, she will always be there for me, whether it is in support or redirection.
- I am thankful that G-d has put me into a community of people with a similar past to myself and an even more similar present, a community of people who are warm and welcoming, understanding the need for immediate closeness and fellowship upon arrival in an expat situation.
- I am thankful for my friends in Germany, without whom I never would have learned to expect to love countries that didn't originally strike me as a place I would want to visit.
- I am thankful for my friends who have taken it on themselves to mentor me while I'm here, in spite of my personality.
- I am thankful for my friends who make an effort to keep in touch with me, even when I allow the business of my life to keep me away from communication more than I would like.
- I am thankful for my friends in Nicaragua, who keep in touch with me, helping me exercise my language skills, and keeping me connected to the realities of the majority of the world, teaching me to be happier for "unfortunate" circumstances.
- I am thankful for my friends at Yeshuat Yisrael who keep me in their prayers and are taking care of me, even from thousands of miles away.
10. I am thankful to be able to take for granted things like food, water, eyesight, an enclosed living space, clothes, all my appendages, my family, socks, candy, books, my computer, my phone, a lock on my door, running water, sanitation, freedom of religion, a bed, music, being alive, communication, and (I'll end this list like I started it) G-d.
What are you thankful for this year?