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Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  It is the one where you make a conscious effort to think about and be thankful for the good people, things & experiences in your life.    No matter how hard we think we have worked, none of us achieves happiness or success by ourselves, and all of us are lucky to live in a society that gives us so many chances. 

Below - my parents on their wedding day.John & virginia Matel

I had trouble learning to read and in first grade my teacher put me into the low group.   My mother convinced the teachers that I was not stupid, just bored and a little stubborn.   To placate my mother and probably teach her a lesson, they jumped me into a higher group.   I did well there.  W/o that intervention, I think I would have been a failure at an early age and then continued down that road to earthly perdition.    I am thankful for my mother’s confidence and flexible teachers.

My father dropped out of school when he was in 10th grade, but he nevertheless saw the value of education.   He just assumed I would go to college and because of that and because of him, I did too.   My father didn’t have the experience to understand what college meant, but he knew enough to launch me in the right direction. 

Below I am standing in front of Medusa Cement Company on in Milwaukee.  The picture is from 2006.  My father worked there for thirty-six years in the dust and the noise.  I put in four summers, which gave me only a small taste of the hard work he did to support the family. John Matel at Medusa Cement  His work helped put me in a position to get a great job where they pay me to do what I would pay to do. 

I was seventeen when my mother died.  My sister was only fifteen and my father didn’t know what to do.   My mother’s sisters stepped in to help.   I am thankful for my aunts, who carried us through those hard times.    They took turns and one of them came over every day.  My whole extended family has been good to me.   I still always have a place to go and a home in Milwaukee. 

Speaking of Milwaukee, I was lucky to grow up in Milwaukee & Wisconsin, with the wonderful parks, nice museums and inexpensive education at the University Wisconsin system.   I am also thankful that it was easy to get into university in those days.    With my grades and habits when I was eighteen, I am not sure they would let me in these days.  

There is way too much for me to say about Chrissy and the kids and besides it is too personal to put on the blog.   No matter what you achieve in your professional life, you need good family relationships to be really happy.  

Below is angel oak in South Carolina. 

angel oak

My list is of good things is long.  I sometimes cannot believe how lucky I have been and how many people & events have helped me along.    Good fortune in important.   We should pray not merely to be fortunate, but to be able to do the things that make us deserve to be fortunate.


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