Posted in Product Recommendations, Thanksgiving

There’s So Much to Be Thankful For

Yes, I made all of my classes listen to Josh Groban’s classic tune “Thankful” on Tuesday as part of our reflection before prayer. And let me tell you, the reactions from “Who is this guy?” to “Oh, my grandma LOVES him” made me realize just how old I’m getting (compared to high school students that is!)
Today is Thanksgiving. When I begin to tell you about my week, you may become a bit skeptical about the title of this post; however, you’ll learn, as I have today, that it could not be more true. My week began with a jam-packed Sunday, driving back from a conference in Ocean City with 6 of my students. Also, we were a little extra tired on the ride back since a 1:30 AM leak in the hotel rooms above ours resulted in a middle of the night wake-up call/relocation. I made it through my final two days of classes prior to break, including Grandparents’ Day, before the ER decided it had been too long since we’d been acquainted with one another. So Tuesday afternoon I paid it a visit. Thankfully, it was a quick and rather painless trip (except those IVs…I’m just not a fan), and by nightfall I was home for a day of convalescing. As luck would have it, Mother Nature sent a snowstorm which gave me no alternative but to spend the day on my couch catching up on Hulu, Netflix, and napping…so all in all, things could have been much worse. Then this morning, I dragged myself out of bed before dawn, donned my Burke Family Cider Dash shirt and headed off in the dark of pre-sunrise morning for the Poconos. Well, I was almost halfway there when this happened:

AAA man looked as crestfallen as I did when he broke the news. There was no way this could be fixed without a repair shop and even the one that stayed open for Thanksgiving couldn’t do this job without parts ordered. There was the option of towing all the way to the Poconos for a small fee- but also no guarantee the car could be fixed in time for me to get back for work next week; hence, it was decided by my mom, myself, and my new AAA friend that the best route was to be towed home to Maryland. So here I sit, alone in my apartment, with a plate of Katie-safe stuffing (what would have been my contribution to the family meal).
Now before you start feeling sorry for me, please don’t. First of all, my mom is driving down tomorrow with all the leftovers and spending the night here so all is not lost. Second, upon reflection, this has certainly been the most unique Thanksgiving I’ve ever celebrated, but also I have to say quite a meaningful one in its own way. No, I didn’t make it home to celebrate the way I usually do. And yet, somehow I feel  more in touch with the sentiment of the holiday than I ever have before. Think about it: on the first Thanksgiving, yes, there were families present. But it was also about bringing together all different people from different tribes, families, etc. and sharing what they had, offering what they could, even though some would never cross paths again, at least not intentionally.

Well, today as I sat in the Redner’s QuickStop parking lot with a sad looking vehicle, 3 different people approached me and offered to help. One, completely dressed in his Thanksgiving finest, offered to jack my car for me, suit and all, before realizing that it was more than just a flat tire situation. Another offered to get me a warm beverage while still another occupied my time with questions about this cider dash (I was still wearing my t-shirt). As we drove the almost 90 miles back to Towson together, I celebrated a portion of the day with the tow truck driver. Though I profusely apologized for ruining his Thanksgiving by needing a tow, he assured me that he was spending the day alone at home with his 2 dogs in between calls so that I really was good company. He also has family in Harrisburg so he was thinking of swinging by on the way back north. We shared stories, discussed the recent snow, the worst times of year for car batteries, the frustration of unreliable colleagues, etc. and then we parted ways, never to cross paths again. However, for 90 minutes of one Thanksgiving, I trusted him to provide me with the one thing I needed: transportation, and he trusted me to provide him with something too: entertainment. Well, and a commission 🙂

Yes, I have to say that although I’ve missed my family dearly, a day of solitude also provides an opportunity to really reflect on the concept of gratitude and the multitude of people and things I have to be grateful for today. So in no particular order, here is what I’m thankful for on this most unique of Thanksgivings:

1) AAA: I hesitate each year when I go to write my renewal check; yet somehow every year, I find it paying for itself. Today’s 90-mile tow: free! Broke even this year 🙂

2) Guardian Angels: If you could see the front axle and tires right now, it’s just not pretty. Considering I was on Interstate 78 going about 65 miles an hour at the time, it’s a wonder all I had to do was pull over. Therefore, today I’m grateful to God and whatever guardian angels were with me today keeping me safe, and also the ones last weekend who ensured this didn’t happen while I was driving 3 students back from Ocean City with me.

3) Angels on Earth: There has been quite an uproar on social media lately about stores opening on Thanksgiving night and employees having to work. Now, I do not disagree with this sentiment one bit; stores should under no circumstances be open until tomorrow morning. However, what about the countless people who work every Thanksgiving? I mean the nurses, doctors, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, tow truck drivers, flight attendants, pilots, bus drivers, train conductors, soldiers, etc. of the world who work each and every Thanksgiving, keeping us safe and making sure we get where we need to go. There’s no uproar to keep them home…because we need them. Still, I don’t think they often get the credit they deserve. So to those angels on Earth, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

4) Katiesafe stuffing: My one contribution to tonight’s Burke family dinner table has instead become my Thanksgiving feast. Thank goodness stuffing was always my favorite dish at the meal anyway 🙂

5) Technology: Using my school iPad, I was able to Facetime into the Burke Family Thanksgiving festivities twice and make the rounds, so in many ways I feel like I was there. I even ate some of my stuffing as I chatted so I don’t feel like I ate Thanksgiving dinner alone.
The wonders of technology…
still made my way around the Burke family living room

6) Friends: I am very grateful to have amazing friends both near and far. Friends to whom I can vent in texts, emails, and even Facebook group messages. Friends that I can call on Thanksgiving morning for a rescue ride from the repair shop. Friends who I know would welcome me with open arms at their Thanksgiving dinner tables tonight, even though I probably couldn’t eat a blessed thing on their table. Friends who lift me up in prayer when they know there’s nothing else they can offer. If I do nothing else right in my life, I still consider myself successful when I look around at the amazing people I’m fortunate enough to call friends.

7) Family: As I’ve probably mentioned before, I have the best family one could ask for. Granted, I know everyone says that, but I think it’s true. Every person does have the best family FOR THEM. My family graciously passed my face around the room and shared stories of the day, asked how I was doing, understood completely that I couldn’t be with them today. And now my mom is making the 4-hour trek to Baltimore tomorrow with all the leftovers, and specially-ordered Katie-safe dessert, in tow.  Again, I don’t know what I did to deserve such a blessing, but I thank God for it today.

8) Love: Back in January, I deemed 2014 to be the Year of Love. I had no idea how true that would become. Whether it’s because I was intent on noticing it more or that it simply became a self-fulfilling prophecy, I am simply amazed by the love which surrounds me each day. I left a school where I was enveloped in love each and every day and joined a new one where I have found more of the same. I work with teachers who meet for morning prayer with me each week. I have students who question, ponder, and get excited about faith, Christ, and Catholicism. I have colleagues who drop everything to drive me to the ER and someone in my life who cares enough to also drop everything, leave work, and drive an hour to sit by my side in the ever-entertaining cubicle of an ER room. Yes, as the soon-to-be-viewed Christmas classic, says “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

And who says High Schoolers aren’t adorable??

So tonight, I’ll say good night to my first Thanksgiving away from home. And though I won’t go as far as to say I’m OK with not having made it there, I will say that given the situation at hand, today turned out far better than I expected it to when I first heard the clunk and felt the shaking steering wheel. After some deep breaths and a few whispers of the Serenity Prayer, the day turned out all right.
Serenity Prayer
(courtesy of
So wherever you are and however you’re celebrating tonight, Happy Thanksgiving! If it’s your first with food allergies, I’ve been there…but I promise, it’s not as bad as you think. You’re healthy, you’re happy, and you’re surrounded in love. Enjoy the dwindling hours of this special day, and know that I am lastly thankful for each and everyone of you who reads this. I truly love writing and sharing my story, and when I get messages from you that a) people actually read what I write and b) that sometimes it really helps someone, well it means the world to me. So on this Thanksgiving in a special way, I say thank YOU for being you. And please keep reading 🙂

From my table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!!

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