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Full Plates, Full House, Full Hearts

If you know me, or if you’ve read this blog for a while, then you know that my father has been the most influential person in my life, both while he was alive and in the decades since he passed. Not a day goes by that his impact isn’t evident in the actions that I take, or in a shift in perspective that I experience or in the laughs I get (or give myself) when I bomb at something.

My father was born into poverty and had no obvious prospects for future success, except for one thing: He never accepted that his start determined his life story. Instead, he put himself through school, including earning a law degree at night after long days at work; he met my mother and often described her as the woman of his dreams; he had two kids and became a law professor (to him, teaching was the ultimate profession and the best way he could give back).

Through hard work, resilience and optimism, he created the life he wanted to live.

Throughout the years, despite how hard he worked to achieve all he did, he carried with him generosity and gratitude for those around him. It’s probably not surprising, then, that Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday; it has also become mine.

For my father, Thanksgiving was a time to reflect and collect people together from every walk of life. Our Thanksgiving dinners were open to all and we’d have a few constants each year – some close friends and family – along with a slew of people we didn’t know; often, there were many guests who had nowhere else to go.

Thanksgiving was a time to invite lively discussions despite differing views, to laugh, to eat, to laugh again. Simply put, it was about joy: Joy in gathering, joy in sharing.

To me, there’s no better time to consider how I’ve lived my life so far and what I aim to accomplish moving forward; the impact that I’ve had on those around me, where I’ve helped and how I can do more; and how, like him, I can try to create laughter and joy.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to do the same: Remember that person (or people) who have helped you become all that you are (and if you’re fortunate enough to have them around still, be sure they know what they mean to you). And think about what you’ll do to keep their legacy of love, learning, laughter and support alive.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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