An overdue visit to Gratitude Road

This piece from The New York Times had some interesting ideas to help us express gratitude. It inspired this letter, which I unfortunately can’t deliver to its addressee. I hope it encourages some readers to write — and actually deliver — one of their own while they have the opportunity.

Dear Ernie,

I came to visit today to share this letter with you. I could have mailed it, but I wanted to tell you in person how grateful I am that you are my mentor and friend.

You were one of my first bosses and will always be my best. When I started working at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s business desk, I called you Mr. Beazley, even though I knew it was old fashioned, because I already respected you so much.  You asked me to call you Ernie because Mr. Beazley made you feel old. Funny to think I’m almost as old as you were then and I, too, despise it when 23 year olds call me Ms. Oldham.

I’d like to think we have a lot in common because you were always there for your young staff, both personally and professionally.

I’ll never forget the time you asked me to make sure “in a sisterly way” that Theo’s dress shirt fit him before he came in for his second day of interviews in Little Rock. It was then that I knew both you and he were too good for the pedestrian world of the workplace and I was truly fortunate to share office space with you.  I’d like you to know so many of the things you did and said stuck. Every time I write a weak lead, I still think about the time you said your dog Blackie could do better. If he was your dog, I have no doubt that he really could have.

I don’t know why we never got together for coffee after I left the paper. And I don’t know why I didn’t do a better job of keeping in touch, which makes it tragic that I can’t, in fact, deliver this letter of gratitude in person.  But I hope that you somehow know what it says anyway — and that it doesn’t have any misspellings or AP style mistakes.

Gratefully,

Charlene

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More Things to Be Thankful for in 2013 Continued

My great niece is getting an early start in the kitchen.

My great niece is getting an early start in the kitchen.

It’s been so long since I added an item to this list that I had to reread my own blog to see what I’d already covered. I was surprised to find I had not yet mentioned food.

I love food. It’s a bold statement in a culture in which food is often vilified, but I don’t hesitate to admit it. I love everything about food — eating it, cooking it, thinking about it, even shopping for it. I don’t even mind exercising because it means I can have more of it without feeling guilty. And guilt is something I rarely indulge in too much of, though I can’t say the same about food.

In fact, I once took third place in a coed meatball eating contest by consuming 21 golf ball-sized meat treats in five minutes. My prize?

Contemplating a raw egg appetizer

Contemplating a raw egg appetizer

Two Blues hockey tickets and $100 in steaks. I don’t know whether I should feel proud or embarrassed to admit I didn’t even feel that full after the competition, a fundraiser for a local food bank.

And, though I obviously love food on a personal level, I am particularly thankful for the role it plays family, culture, and friendship. Almost every family has favorite recipes that are passed down, serving as edible heirlooms that help both preserve and create memories at every special occasion or on any typical Tuesday.

So, rather than demonizing food for all the negative things it can do to my waistline and wallet, I choose to make shopping, cooking, and eating a shared everyday celebration for the mind, body, and soul.

Homemade fried rice made after a phone consultation with her 81-year-old mimi and a little hands-on help from mom.

Homemade fried rice made after a phone consultation with her 81-year-old mimi and a little hands-on help from mom.