Like many families, mine recently began focusing their Thanksgiving holiday on dysfunction. Forgive us. We came to this American tradition later than most families.
Nevertheless, we have arrived in grand fashion and without equal. But before we landed upon this well trodden pool of slop, we used to have a less volatile tradition of letting each family member talk about those things that prompt gratitude. Ah, the salad days of my youth.
Last year, I offered up a list of people and things that filled my heart with eternal gratitude. I thought I'd take the opportunity to do so again, simultaneously giving family members and other Haters a few more reasons to stick a fork in me.
But before I do, let me qualify my definition of gratitude. In my own quest for truth and happiness, I've come to believe that one should be grateful for both positives and negatives. Like that platter of turkey we are all going to devour in a couple days, it is the contrast of light and dark meat that provides contrast and allows us to choose what we will savor without guilt and what we ought to leave on the plate to avoid having our hearts explode.
In other words, when you know what you don't want in life, you more clearly understand what you do want in life.
So with that in mind, here is this year's list:
I'm grateful to Glendale Water & Power. You've provided me with plenty to write about and openly ridicule: raising rates on customers who actually conserved water, overcharging a customer for using an amount of water so absurd it defied belief. What can I say? You complete me.
I'm grateful to Far Niente and Sed Thee Thai Eatery for being so close by and so incredibly delicious. Every time I venture to the west side for food I am reminded by the snotty hostesses and insufferable crowds just how lucky we "Glendalish Town Folk" are to have restaurants whose food rivals that of any in L.A. County. And we don't have to drive through traffic or pay out-of-work actors to park our cars.
I'm grateful to Dan Evans and Jason Wells for giving me the latitude to write what I believe is important on a weekly basis and for having the infinite wisdom to edit and improve what I submit for publication.
I'm grateful to my Admirers and Haters. While life might be easier to receive nothing but complimentary reader comments, it's the ones that offer passionate differing points of view and creative ways for me to die that provide real opportunity for improvement.
I'm still grateful to the masses who think it is acceptable to text and drive, eat and drive, put makeup on and drive, read the paper and drive or generally do anything and drive as I ride my motorcycle by their cars. My only hope is that those distracted drivers are as grateful for the finger I gleefully point their way as I pass by.
I'm grateful to the executives at my regular job, who inspire me with their vision and dedication. I feel lucky to be learning what it means to work for a category leader that innovates and does everything it can to deliver the best product possible for the customer. And if you think that's a plug, it isn't. I'm sure you've heard the old saying, "It's not rocket science!" Well where I work, it is rocket science. Part of our business actually involves sending rockets with satellites into space. It's pretty cool to be around people who know how to make that happen.
On a personal note, I'm grateful to my sister and brother. By fire, you've helped forge me into the person I am at this very moment. With your help, I've become a much stronger person, with a real understanding of purpose and resolve. I have unquestionably learned the meaning of morality from you. Your actions have enlightened me and solidified my inner strength. I want you to know that your recent efforts will not go to waste.
I'm grateful to my mom and dad. My mom, who is no longer with us in physical form, lives within me — a beacon of truth. I feel her intelligent will inspiring me to do the right thing. And I'm grateful to my dad, who has shown me that I need to provide nothing less than an unwavering support for every one of my children without prejudice and with complete acceptance. Doing anything less is parenting failure and cowardice.
I am grateful to my children, who help me see the best and worst in me. Remember when I said that gratitude is about contrast? My kids provide it in abundance, showing me my faults and triumphs with brutal equality.
And finally, most of my gratitude must be reserved for my neighbor (she knows exactly who she is). She stands by me with unwavering support and energy. She is tenacious in her belief of my ability and potential. For this I am humbled.
It is my most sincere hope that every one of you reading this may have at least one person in your life who will stand beside you as faithfully as she does me. Because whether your present moment of reality is light or dark, one person who believes in you makes all the difference in your life.
For me, the gravy on my main dish is that I get to begin new traditions as part of her family. I find myself renewed and optimistic at the prospect of such growth.
GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.