Truly Thankful

We celebrated Thanksgiving a few days ago and I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful wife, two great sons, a comfortable income, shelter and good health. It is one of my favorite days of the year and I have so many fun memories of family, friends, football games and what seemed like endless amounts of food. When you combine these four things in my world it adds up to one thing- competition.

Men love to compete. I believe it is programmed into our DNA and it shows up early in our lives. I see it every day being a father to vibrant 10 and 8 year olds. They compete in everything and I mean everything. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, shooting baskets, and that is just what happens prior to 7:00am! Growing up I would be out camping and hiking with friends and they would tell me, “You don’t see a mountain, you see a challenge.” Yes, this is true. I love to compete against others and myself.

The earliest roots of this most likely stems from me being the youngest of eight children back in the great state of Michigan. We grew up in a blue-collar home that preached discipline. I learned at a very young age that not only did I need to appreciate what I was given, but sometimes you need to fight for things that you want. Playing sports was just an outlet. For me competing has been a lifelong event.

Now in my mid-40’s things are still the same. I want to be the best in everything that I do. In our household we started a new tradition two years ago. Everyone who is coming over to our house for Thanksgiving is encouraged to weigh in before breakfast (underwear only) and then weigh out at the end of the day (same attire). The person who gains the most weight is the champion. What do you actually get besides the feeling that your stomach is going to burst? The pride of winning, and that my friends is what is important. I have been the “winner” the past two years and I planned on retaining the championship belt in 2018.

The day began with a moderate breakfast, which was followed by mowing the lawn and trimming trees with the boys. After that I worked out for about 45 minutes while watching the Detroit Lions game. I have been a long-suffering Lions fan my entire life, but that is a blog for a different day. A light lunch was next. We eat our Thanksgiving meal in the late afternoon, so I did not want to fill up. My wife is an amazing cook and I will be eating a large portion of everything she has to offer. It was nearing 2:30pm and my father-in-law was finishing up carving the turkey. Gentleman…start your engines.

It is a slow death for everyone else involved in the competition. They try to keep up, but eventually they give in to indigestion and tryptophan induced comas. Even though I was active throughout the day I still gained slightly over six pounds to retain my reign as the Thanksgiving Champion. I didn’t feel nearly as miserable as I have in the past and by the next morning I was back to my original weight from the day before. Yes, you heard that correctly. I burned six pounds overnight. My wife is convinced that I sprint in my sleep.

Having priorities in life

As I sit here writing this blog, I think about how as men we compete for so many different things in life. We try and outwork everyone else in an attempt to achieve prove our worth to the people we are competing against, our family or maybe just to ourselves. We lose sight of what is important in life and even try to justify what we are doing. Things like spending long extended hours at the office or taking on extra projects to provide better for our families when all they want is to spend time with us. Sometimes “quality time” needs to be replaced with “quantity time”. We need to be present in their lives.

In the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, a father put’s his career and providing for his family in front of spending time with his son. As time passes, the roles have reversed and now father realizes that his son is too busy for him. It is a heart wrenching song that warns fathers to appreciate the time they have with their children. As many people have told me, the time goes by quickly so enjoy it while you have it. That is the main reason in my life that I choose family over a job promotion with the Giants or take on events that would alienate my family.

My advice to all the men out there would be this- make sure you put your life into perspective NOW. Prioritize what is important to you. It’s very simple for me. God is first, my wife is second, my kids are third, my job is fourth, and my extended family and friends come in fifth. What I am truly thankful for this year? The fact that my wife and kids are healthy, and that God loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to compete for His love or prove anything to Him. He loves us for who we are- His children. What are you thankful for in 2018?

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