Something to be thankful for

Leslie Parker, Featured Columnist

My dad brings me my lunch when I forget it. He tutored me in math when I needed it. He taught me how to drive a stick even though it took a whole month. He has spent countless hours helping me write speeches for every Student Council election. My dad has always been there for me. My dad has always loved me unconditionally. My dad always works to be the best dad that he can be, but I can’t remember the last time I took a moment to tell him thank you.

I mean, sure, when he brings me lunch I give him a quick hello and thanks before I turn around to join my friends, but I haven’t really thanked him.  I haven’t looked him in the eyes, said thank you and given him the big bear hug he deserves. And it’s not because I don’t love him or appreciate him. I just take him for granted. I don’t realize how much I appreciate or love him until I realize not everyone has what I have.

When the shooting in Newtown, Conn. took place I remember reading a tweet written by a mom that said, “I’m appreciating the fact that I can pick up my kids from school today when I know so many other parents can no longer do that for their own.” It’s awesome that she realized how good she has it with her kids, really, but it is terrible that it took the death of 20 other parent’s kids for her to do so.

I, too, am guilty of not realizing how lucky I am until tragedy strikes. Maybe it’s just human nature, or maybe it’s just the culture we live in. We say we’re “living life to the fullest”, but we don’t ever make time to appreciate the lives we’ve been given. We don’t take time to appreciate the fact that we have working legs, a place to call home, a support system, until we see others who don’t.

I grew up in a house where I had two rooms. One room was my actual bedroom, the other was where I kept all my toys. I’ve been showered with gifts on my wishlist every Christmas and birthday. When I got my license, I got my first car. I’ve only ever lost one person in my life and his life only ended after he had lived a full 86 years.

I’ve never had any serious health complications. I have the best best friends. I have parents that still come in and wish me “Goodnight” before I go to sleep. I have a pantry full of food. I have a school full of the best students and teachers. I will go to college and get a job to give all of this to my kids. I am only 17 years old, but I have so much to be grateful for.

Our nation has faced tragedy in Boston and in West and after catching myself saying, “I’m really glad I still have my parents,” I have decided that every morning I will mentally list all the things I have to be grateful for. I will count my blessings. I will let my favorite Dr. Seuss quote serve as a daily reminder for me: You better be thankful a whole heaping lot, for the people and places you’re lucky you’re not.

It will no longer take a tragedy to make me stop and think about how much I have to be thankful for. I will no longer see how lucky I am only when I see how unlucky others are. I will not be one of those people, because one day tragedy will strike and in the midst of all the bad things, it will be too late to realize all the good.