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Giving thanks starts with being here

November 2, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
One of the actual Good Things on Facebook is the number of people who post something daily for the month leading up to Thanksgiving that they’re thankful for.

I did it last year, and it makes you think a lot about what is really important in your life, the stuff you actually cannot live without. Try not to make it about iPads and chrome wheels and stuff and more about people and the condition of life, and you’ll be surprised about what you really have in this world. (Doesn’t mean I won’t spend at least one post on being thankful for being in the technological age we’re in. See? Condition of life, not stuff.)

I figure you'll indulge me if I make a couple blog posts about thankfulness this time of year.

Which brings me right to the first point: This amazing, frustrating, wonderful, agonizing, fun, brutal, joyous, life-altering, mood-swinging, underpaid but I’d do it for free if I could keep the lights on job of mine. (No ideas there at all, paycheck signers. I said I need to keep the lights on.)

I walked away in September 2011 and spent about 18 months doing something else, for which I am thankful. It altered my perception and, like the Prodigal Son, I realized there really is only one place I fit like a finger in a 10-year-old Isotoner: 401 Herald Square.

The point was underscored Saturday as a few of us staffers stood in a cold rain to support our former city and community editor Marian Houser, as she lay her daughter to rest. She has lived through countless such life-paining moments since I’ve known her, which I realized while standing there in the chill November air has been more than half my life.

As I apologized for not being able to go to the later memorial service because I had copy desk duty or there’d be no Sunday newspaper, Marian became my city editor again for a flash and said, “It has to be done. I’m still a newspaper woman, you know.”

And it made it easier to leave my amazing, dysfunctional family of newspeople to the memorial and head off to the newsroom for the evening.

It was a slow news night and writing this seemed to come naturally instead of a dinner break.

And that’s just so damned cool, isn’t it?

How many people on their jobs get to take a moment alone with their thoughts? How many get people interested in sharing them? That’s assuming there are a couple folks taking time to read this, for which I am deeply grateful.

I’ve interviewed governors and stood in the presence of presidential candidates. I’ve had lunch with Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti. I interviewed one-on-one Kathleen Sibelius when she was schlepping for Obama (and no, I couldn’t have stopped her. Sorry.) I’ve flown in antique aircraft and toured the Pittsburgh International Airport before it was open to the public. (It’s still the “new” airport to me, 20-plus years after it opened). I walked onto the Veterans Memorial Bridge when it didn’t touch either bank of the river. (It’s still the “new” bridge to me, though it’s 23 years old.) I toured a blast furnace and understood how much I owe my father for his working there (thank goodness there are more columns on thankfulness to come). There’s so much more.

I couldn’t have done that as a little reporter in a huge paper in some big city. And I couldn’t have done that as some file clerk in a law office, no offense to either big city reporters or file clerks, just not for me.

I am thankful that, after 51 years of life, I finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up.

And thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride.

We’ve still got miles to go, I hope.


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