Column: The thanks I should have given

Jason-Column2As you read this, you may still be in the process of digesting your Thanksgiving feast. Honestly, I hope that’s what you’re doing because Thanksgiving is part of that shared, end-of-the-year celebration we talked about in this space a couple weeks ago and it’s something from which I think we all benefit.

Plus, I love watching the parade.

Yeah, I did just turn 39. What about it?

Anyway, as the name implies, you may have taken a moment during your day to give thanks for the people, situations and things you treasure in your life. For me, that’s easily done. I’m thankful for my wife, my family, my friends and for the people behind the names you see in the masthead of this newspaper. Speaking of this newspaper, I’m thankful for this space in which we visit each week and I’m thankful for my first novel–OK, novella–which will be published sometime in the next several months.

That was easy. I expect you’d probably find it easy to rattle off a few things for which you’re thankful.

But what about the thanks I should have given?

We all have things that shape us in our lives, that help make us who we are, but we don’t always realize that’s what’s happening at the time. So, I thought I’d take a moment or three now to give some of the thanks I owe.

I should have thanked my first grade teacher, Ms. Weiskopf, for teaching me love and caring existed outside my own home.

I should have thanked my second grade teacher, Ms. Syrup, for reminding me not every teacher would teach that way.

I should have thanked my Aunt Diana and Uncle Angelo, and I suppose I am now, for giving me that toy explorer’s boat when I was about seven. The little, square plastic men it came with didn’t get much use, but the Smurfs and other characters explored every inch of our apartment in that ship and I still think about it today.

I should have thanked Billy Ciofi for punching me in the face during recess in about third or fourth grade and teaching me the reality of getting punched in the face is not as bad as the fear of it. That’s a good lesson, I think.

He’s gone now, but I should have found a way to thank Fred Rogers for being my television neighbor when I was a kid. I was an only child then and Mr. Rogers taught me more than it’s likely fashionable to admit now about how to be a good person able to deal with the world around me. I hope today’s children are still paying attention to the lessons he left behind.

I should have thanked “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and maybe I still can, for teaching me that more can be accomplished, and more damage done, with your wits and your humor than even your fists when it comes to conflict. Seems counter to Mr. Rogers, I know, but not if you use your wits and humor for the right reasons.

I should have thanked my 12th grade economics teacher, Mr. Egloff, for taking us to see “Casablanca” during its 50th anniversary in 1991. What does “Casablanca” have to do with economics? Nothing, he just wanted us to see it. It’s my favorite movie to this day, was the gateway to my love of classic film and the dialogue in it reinforced my desire to write more than anything else ever has. That day changed my life and Mr. Egloff, wherever he is, has no idea.

I should have thanked my first girlfriend who, in our two years together, taught me exactly how I did not want or deserve to be treated in a relationship. That last time I saw her was, ironically–and I would say magically–some two years after we broke up and 30 minutes before I met my wife, who has enhanced my life immeasurably these last 17 years.

I should have thanked Mike Pisani, and maybe I did, for asking me to write his School of Visual Arts thesis film. I worked with Mike at Tower Video in Yonkers, back when there was such a thing, and, because of him, I got to sit in a Cineplex Odeon in Manhattan and see a film I wrote with a crowd, who laughed and reacted in all the right places. I’ve never forgotten that feeling and I never will and that’s down to Mike.

And finally, I should have thanked AIG for letting my wife go in June of last year. That was the catalyst for a series of events that led to the sentence you’re reading right now. I’m glad to be a part of your newspaper and I’ll always be grateful to AIG for being foolish enough to let my wife go.

She’s doing just fine at UBS now, thank you very much.


Reach Jason at jason@hometwn.com and follow him on Twitter @jasonchirevas