Give Thanks

Jason, my longest friend in recovery, and I used to have a Thanksgiving tradition where we’d share our gratitude lists. He died in January. I found myself this holiday wanting to continue the tradition. It’s what makes today my favorite holiday. No frills or material obligations — only food, family, and a thankful feeling.

Thanksgiving could be called National Gratitude Day. We gather with those closest to us, and we are expected to tell them what we appreciate about them. Jason treated every day like it were Thanksgiving. He was amazing like that. You can help me remember him (and all those lost) by creating your own gratitude list. I’d be honored if you shared yours here, but this is more than just making a list.

This is a gratitude list, the miracle of the mundane style. List the person, why you’re grateful for them, and then comes the kicker: share your list with that person. Wise and sober men have informed me that gratitude is an action. Feeling grateful is one thing, making others feel appreciated rockets you into the 4th dimension.

I’ll Start:

My wife: For seeing me through another football season, supporting my dreams and bolstering my realities.

My son: For filling my life with reason and purpose.

My daughter: For filling my world with color and beauty.

My mother: For telling me, “you could do anything” until I finally believed it.

My father: For showing me the kind of man I can become with a little hard work and unconditional love.

My step-mother: For showing me that teaching requires love more than anything else.

My step-father: For convincing me to never let my fears dictate my direction.

My brothers: For always having my back.

My sisters: For showing me a softer, gentler way.

My sponsor: For taking call after call after call, and guiding me through a sober life and all its difficulties.

My fellow coaches: For showing me that work is fun, and true collaboration is the only way to lead.

My fellow teachers: For encouraging me to never give up on the kid who can’t quite get it.

My players: For proving that belief conquers all obstacles.

My students: For always giving me a new way to see the world.

My #RecoveryPosse: For proving that the opposite of addiction is connection.

My fellow writers: For encouraging me to write through my doubt, apprehension, angst, and criticism.

My recovery fellowship: For being there every week with a pot of hot coffee and sharing my darkest places.

True gratitude is in the expression of thanks. I hope you find the time today to make someone else feel appreciated; and that you find a way to bask in the light that shines in others.

9 Responses to “Give Thanks

  • I’m grateful to know you, Mark. Happy Thanksgiving

  • Happy Thanksgiving Mark. Something else I recognized this year, the ability to find thanks, feel thanks and express thanks. No matter what.

  • Beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • I’m sorry for the loss of your friend and grateful for the technology that allows us to share this space and time and thought. May we have many more years of thoughtful thanksgiving.

  • Superb. Thankful for our friendship and connection we have through our writing. – DDM

  • So yesterday my words shared with 20 at our table were:

    Heavenly Father, as we sit together with family and

    friends we ask you to bless this gathering

    around our table of Thanksgiving.

    We remember with appreciation those who are no

    longer with us, and are so grateful for who we still

    have, especially those here today.

    God Bless them all and God Bless America.

    In your Amazing Grace, Amen

    I am deeply sorry for the loss of your friend. To close out your list, be thankful for your own strength to say for what you are thankful.

  • Really enjoyed this post and tribute, Mark. Yes, I want to live like every day is Thanksgivings. Love that.

  • johnny Spence
    10 months ago


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