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Topics/tags: Autobiographical, belated

On the day some folks call Gratitude day and others call Turkey day [1], I like to step back and reflect on the many things I’m grateful for. I hope that everyone has something for which they are grateful, but I also realize that I am particularly fortunate in the way my life has turned out.

I am most grateful for my family. I have three spectacular sons of whom I am quite proud and a wonderful wife who is generous to those around her and who puts up with me. This year, I am particularly grateful that my children were all able to make it home for the holiday. While I enjoy each of them individually, I also love seeing how they interact and collaborate, whether in a game or in a project [3]. Michelle’s brother and sister-in-law braved the wintry weather to join us; it’s always great to have them around. I will admit that I’m sad about the family members who are no longer with us; it’s hard to believe that we’ve been without any parents for almost a decade.

I am also grateful that we have the resources to bring others into our house for the shared meal. Middle son invited a variety of friends and teammates, including at least two students who often feel like family. While I also enjoy sharing the meal at our friends’ houses, it feels particularly nice to be able to bring people here. It also reminds both Michelle and me of our times growing up, times when our parents were always happy to have others join us for the meal.

I am grateful for a job, an institution, and a town that fit me well. As I say frequently, I’m very lucky to have a job where I can make a positive difference to amazing young adults and enjoy myself while doing so. I also have a lot of freedom, work with insightful and intelligent people, and get compensated well for the work I do. Although I do complain [4] regularly about Grinnell, it is a wonderful institution at which to work. Not only do we have the resources to try curricular innovation and to support students who could otherwise not afford a top-tier liberal arts education, but we also have an engaged faculty and staff and a student-centered curriculum. As I said, I’m fortunate to work with a wide variety of excellent colleagues. Whenever I visit another institution and ask myself whether I’d be happier there, the answer is always I’m happier at Grinnell. This year, I’m particularly grateful for our new Dean, who, in my experiences so far, seems to be amazing. I’m also grateful that we have permission to hire for a new tenure-line position. As far as I can tell, that will put us at the number necessary to support demand in CS.

I said a job, an institution, and a town, didn’t I? Grinnell (the town) was a wonderful place to raise my children; I’m thrilled that they did not have to track themselves into only one characteristic, and that each was able to be a strong scholar, an active athlete (each in three sports), a mature musician, and a talented theatre tech, among other things. I like that I know a lot of people around me and that it’s easy to walk everywhere, including to work. I do wish that we had more restaurants and that we had more of the New England terrain that makes me feel at home, but it’s worth it for the other benefits. I know that others feel otherwise, that they want more big-city resources, more anonymity, and more distance from their work. But I’m happy to be here.

I’m grateful that I have the skills to do the things that I do, whether it’s teaching, musing, or helping my children fix doors. I’m also grateful that I have readers for my musings and rants, many of whom respond in thoughtful [5] ways.

Could things be better? Certainly. Could things be worse? Definitely. In any case, they are pretty wonderful. I feel fortunate to be where I am in life.

[1] There’s another T-word for that day, but I understand the objections some of my friends have to the historical implications of that name [2].

[2] Yes, I realize that other friends will likely consider this word choice taking political correctness too far.

[3] Let’s re-hang the broken pocket door.

[4] Or rant.

[5] And occasionally long.

Version 1.0 of 2019-11-30.