Every year, I post this Thanksgiving story on the day before. I hope you enjoy it.
When I was in college, I loved to write. However, I had shoved my creative writing on the back burner and pursued public relations because it was practical. I had no illusions that I would exit college, turn in a story to a publishing company and receive a large check, whirlwind tour and my own fan club.
Fine. I might have had some tiny secret illusions.
Anyway, I was resigned to writing press releases and profiles for the rest of my career. Then I met Dr. Carol Perry in PR writing. On the first day of class, she took my hand in hers and gave me a warm smile.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” she said, pumping my hand. “I don’t get many PR majors. I look forward to seeing your work.”
She had me in the palm of her hand.
Dr. Perry did more than just teach me how to write a press release. She taught me it was ok to write my little stories and line by line, pulled me out of my shell. She challenged me, worked with me and was the first one to coax all the little stories I write now out of me. She was the first one to reveal my niche and style to me, and one of my first major supporters.
I owe this blog to her.
Even though I’ve never been able to reach Dr. Perry, I hope she knows what she meant to me. Because in her class, I felt like my words were gold. I was challenged and I pushed myself. I wanted every word to be perfect, every line to be brilliant.
And until you, my dear Invisible Friends, I hadn’t felt this way in years. I was beaten down by the piles of rejection letters, torn by the sharp critiques of my work. I’d been called juvenile, plotless, one-sided, dark (yes, dark) and aimless. Everything felt wrong, and everything was wrong.
When I quit worrying about what the publishers and agents thought and started to write what I wanted, that’s when I met all of you. When I quit worrying about word count and coming up with brilliant ideas and forcing out stories in a standard medium, you began to read. And when I quit trying to write books and just wrote, you asked for more.
So I owe this to you as well.
Dr. Perry, I want to thank you for what you’ve given me. And Invisible Friends, I want to thank you for reading.
It all started with this Thanksgiving assignment in the fall of 2005, when I stood up in front of the class and read this until tears formed in Dr. Perry’s eyes. I still remember the hug she gave me in front of my bewildered classmates. At that moment, I felt like a real writer.
“The Day after Thanksgiving”
It was the day after Thanksgiving,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.My father was sitting in his big leather chair,
hoping that my mother would let him stay there.
All the turkey had been eaten,
all the relatives had gone,
and now it seemed like no one could smile, just groan.
I was six years old with nothing to do,
with no cousins to entertain me,
not even a friend or two.
I walked up to my Dad who was glued to a football game,
and asked him, “Daddy, what can I do today that’s not lame?”
My dad said, “Go play outside,” without ever taking his eyes off the TV.
“I’m much too busy watching football, as you can plainly see.”
So I bundled up and put my dog on a leash,
and Princess and I set off down the street.
We passed a few houses and I was happy to see,
old Mr. Ritter was sitting on his porch as his son hauled in a Christmas tree.
I scurried up the sidewalk with Princess by my side,
and said “Hey Mr. Ritter whatcha doing? Isn’t it kinda cold outside?”
Mr. Ritter just smiled and said to me, “I’m happy watching my son and grandkids buy and decorate a Christmas tree.
I’m grateful for my family and that I get to spend one more Christmas with them,
before I head up to heaven.”
“Are all people grateful on Thanksgiving?” I asked curiously,
and old Mr. Ritter said, “Well if they aren’t they should be!”
So I waved good bye to old Mr. Ritter and skipped down the sidewalk to visit my old babysitter. “Hey Leah,” I said to her when she opened the door.
“What is it that you’re grateful for?”
Leah looked shocked and said to me, “I’m grateful for my friends and my boyfriend Ben.
He cheered me up when I was blue, and my friends are coming to get me to go to the zoo.
Love and friendship are very important to me,
and I’m grateful I have both in my life, don’t you see.”
Just then a car filled with teenagers pulled up to the curb,
and the blaring music had the neighbors looking disturbed.
Before old Mr. Wayne could yell “Turn that down ruffians!”;
I waved and skipped down the street as the old man started fussin’.
A few houses down and what to my curious eyes should appear?
The Smiths loading up a moving van, and not even shedding a tear!
“Mr. Smith,” I asked him curiously, “What are you grateful for? And why are you moving? Is it because of me?”
Mr. Smith smiled and shook his head,
“Child, it’s nothing you’ve done or said.
We were evicted from our house, so we must find somewhere else to live instead.
I’m grateful we have some money, and plenty to eat,
but I will miss living on this street.
I’m grateful I have my wonderful wife, so I know we’ll be ok in life.”
“You can live in my tree house,” I offered.
“There’s lots of room when you live high in the trees…”
Mr. Smith laughed and said, “I don’t know if I’d quite fit. But it’s quite a nice offer, and I’ll think about it.”
I said, “I understand, and I’ll miss you as well. I hope you find a home that’s for sale.”
I waved goodbye and skipped down the block until I ran into my dad, who didn’t look happy but rather looked mad.
I skipped right up to his glaring eyes, and when I said, ” Dad, what are you grateful for?”
I really took him by surprise!
He said, “I’m grateful for you and your mother, and for my parents and brother. I’m grateful I have a job and a home, and I’m grateful I’m not alone.
I’m grateful for my friends and I’m grateful for my wife. If you break it down, I’ve got a great life. And you’re the best part of all!” he said as he swung me over his head. “No one else could have had such a great kid!”
“So you’re not mad I went on a walk?” I asked when he put me down. My dad just laughed and said, “I was mad but I guess you turned me around.”
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Invisible Friends!
And if you need to do any shopping…
Why not pick up one of my new books?
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