When sitting down to write my column, I normally try to think of a story that highlights a recent odd or humorous event involving our family.

But this month, I opted to create a list of things for which I’m thankful to God. Here goes, in no particular order:
Snooze alarm

And by snooze alarm, I really mean my kids. I don’t remember the last time I actually used the snooze function on my clock. In my early 20s, I recall having had a particular worry crop up once, “What if I oversleep when I have kids?”

Note to 22-year-old self: “Not happening, forget about it. No, really, forget about it.”


Modern humans are spoiled. We can play real life cat sounds on our iPads and drive our family cats bonkers. But we can also get the daily Scripture readings sent to our email every morning, and send pictures to loved ones halfway around the globe.


I’m thankful for this beautiful country of ours: the land and its history. The current internal division and strife is a drag, but God’s in charge. Whatever foolishness occurs, it will ultimately be made right in the end. In the meantime, we can pray and strive to be better emulators of Christ. Our family also looks forward to the annual Christmas parade in our town. It occurs the day after Thanksgiving. The kids enjoy the crazy guy on stilts and the Styrofoam balls that are always tossed to the crowd.

Youthful spunk

God gives some kids an extra dose of spunk. Others cultivate it due to their environment. Either way, it’s a thing to behold.

The other day after Mass, we picked up a box of doughnuts. We weren’t going to touch them until after some family Bible time, a little Gospel recap to make sure we all were listening. Minutes into the recap, 2-year-old Abigail walked in with a face full of chocolate. Her brothers opened their eyes wide in disbelief.

She had scaled the kitchen counter to have a go at the box of doughnuts. She was exercising a bit of keen initiative which, one day, will come in handy.

Perhaps in the workplace or a tense social situation, she’ll need to break away from the pack and stick up for the vulnerable or defend her faith while being surrounded by naysayers. It’s nice to know that God doled out a little extra spunk to some.

Ironically, it was Abigail in the Old Testament who singularly confronted King David and 400 hundred of his men to discourage unnecessary bloodshed. It worked.

Know what she gave them as a peace offering? Food.

Youthful creativity

I am always surprised by how our kids routinely use things for something other than their intended purpose. Use jump rope to pull wagon? Check. Use jump rope as a repelling device off the top of the slide? Check. Actually use jump rope to jump rope? Not so much.


Apparently, someone created a mobile app that allows people to find strangers to hug. That’s awkward.

Fortunately, hugs in our house are given freely and frequently. We have arguments and flare ups. Occasionally, one of us will need to write, “I will be kind to my brother and not hit him with a puzzle board.” But that is unusual.


Our family has one ritual that is a bit unique. No doubt our neighbors look upon it as an oddity.

Frequently in the morning when I leave for work, the kids line up to race me down the sidewalk. They even do it for extended family and friends. Abigail will get in her sprinter stance, as if in the 100 meter Olympic final. She runs with an unusual gait; her knees are high knees and her trunk swivels a bit while her arms float in an elevated fashion. The kids normally get halfway down the block before I really punch the gas and leave them in the dust. Normally, in the distance, I will hear Joseph yell, “Have a nice day, Dad!”

Bedtime stories

Recently, I’ve been lazy. Instead of reading books to the kids, I’ve been spinning outrageous homegrown tales. Lo and behold, the kids have been mesmerized. In the most recent installment, they were captured by Blackbeard and split up among two pirate ships.

Fortunately, John, age 6, had a shrink ray gun in his pantalones, unbeknownst to his captors.

Ironically, 11-year-old Grace has started writing more stories on her own. I like to think there’s a correlation.

Moms and Dads

The pope recently remarked on how God authored the complementarity of man and woman.

I’m assuming it was intentional. Either way, it works pretty well. As a child, I remember my dad giving me the first sip of his soda, and I remember my mom helping me memorize my first prayer. I also remember my dad letting me sit on his lap to drive the family car in rural Iowa. Which, now that I think about it, was probably why my mom was teaching me to memorize my first prayer.

Moms and dads are certainly complementary. When Grace was a baby, she would cling to her mom. I was a bit jealous, until one day while walking along the Pacific coast, the tide turned, and in came some frightening waves. Into whose arms did Grace leap? Yep. Dad’s. I’ll take it.

My wife

Recently at Mass we read Proverbs 31, the virtues of a noble wife: “She seeks out wool and flax and weaves with skillful hands.” We always chuckle a bit. I’ll elbow Teresa lightly, “Where’s my flax?” But I’m convinced, allowing for certain modern day adjustments, my wife would measure up pretty darn well. In the words of Matthew Kelly, she strives to be the “best version of herself.”

So, there’s my list. It’s not comprehensive or exhaustive, but it’s a sampling.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(Joe is married to Teresa. They have four children and run a joyful home in Plymouth. Opportunities for heavenly inspired humor abound. Joe, a librarian and Teresa, a physical therapist, are parishioners at St. John the Baptist, Plymouth.)