As someone whose natural tendency is to see the glass as half empty - unless, of course, it's completely empty - I really appreciate the Christmas season, with its invitation to look inward and think about what is really important in life. When I do that, I realize just how blessed I've been.
Without further ado (That makes me wonder, if you really aren't going to have any more ado, why bother saying, "Without further ado?" Why not just get on with it?) here are a few of the things I am most thankful for during the holiday season, 2008:
1) My wife, Sue.
You've heard of marrying up? Boy, did I marry up.
I'm not talking about in terms of money or social standing or any of the other stuff that lots of people use to define success. I'm talking about goodness and caring and big-heartedness - the stuff more of us should use to measure our standing in the world. If we did, it just might be a better place.
I'm amazed every day that this woman agreed to take me on. It's been over a quarter-century and I still can't figure out why she did, I'm just glad she hasn't changed her mind. She makes me a better person in every way.
2) My three children and my grandchild.
It's really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day parenting stuff and lose sight of what's important. My kids are healthy, vibrant young people with bright futures. They care about others, they work hard, and most importantly, they are intrinsically good. I know they will all live productive lives, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
My little granddaughter is almost two now and she is a blessing in every way. Smart, cheerful, healthy and happy, she fills our little house with toddler noises that haven't been heard here in a long, long time.
3) My job.
I work for the FAA as an air traffic controller, and while I can never forgive the current management structure for what they have done to the career I've devoted my entire adult life to - cutting pay, slashing retirement benefits, poisoning working conditions - I still consider myself fortunate to have a well-respected, high-paying job. Hell, in this economy, I'm glad I even have a job.
My career has enabled me to raise a family and begin sending my children to college. I own my own home and, more importantly, can still afford to make the payments on it. I am blessed.
4) My writing.
I love to write, and while I haven't exactly begun making Stephen King money, I am steadily making inroads, like getting more short stories published and working now on finishing my third novel.
It amazes me to think anyone would be interested in what I write, whether it be my sports blog at Foxsports, my blog at Allanleverone.com or at Myspace, or any of the magazines and anthologies who have published or will be publishing my work.
Thank you so much to:
-Crime and Suspense editor Tony Burton, who published my very first short story, "The Road to Olathe," and then included it in the Ten for Ten anthology. He also took on "Independence Day," one of my all-time favorite stories. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
-Trei Magazine's C.L. Freire. Unfortunately, the ezine is now defunct, but she published "Regrets, I've Had a Few," and has now moved on to bigger and better things.
-Shroud Publishing's Tim Deal. His anthology, Northern Haunts, will be released any minute now and includes my story, "Heart and Sole."
-FlashShot's Esther Schrader, who has accepted "Ned and Helen" for upcoming publication.
-Twisted Dreams Magazine and editor Andrea Dean Von Scoyoc, who has accepted "The Bridal Veil" for publication in the June, 2009 issue.
-Mysterical-E and Joe DeMarco for accepting "Uncle Brick and Jimmy Kills," my 9000 word story which will be featured this coming summer.
-Anyone who has read any of my stuff. I so much appreciate you spending your valuable time in the little worlds I try to construct that I can't even begin to express my appreciation. Thank you, and hopefully I'll be seeing more of you!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and here's to a safe, happy and productive 2009!