During this Thanksgiving week, I’d like to share a story from my childhood that left a profound impact on me. I’ve learned many lessons from my parents, this one being one of the greatest. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones!
Picture this, I’m about 13 years old and heading to one of my first parties that was all just kids my age. #Co-Ed Party. I got dressed up and even put extra gel in my hair! I was so excited to go to this eighth-grade party.
At the time my folks drove an old brown Plymouth Fury that was rusted and had some dents. As we were driving to the party with my dad, I began to feel ashamed and embarrassed by the car. I realized that we were going to Todt Hill, a section of Staten Island that is wealthy, and I was embarrassed by the car that we were driving in. At that moment, I begin to think about what I could do? How can I get to this party without pulling up in front of the house in this car?
(Thanks to Kars4Kids for this photo)
We were about a block away from the house and I said to my dad “you can drop me off here.” He looked at me and said, “No, I’ll drive you there.” I said, “No it’s fine, I don’t want you to have to drive any further.” He said, “Andrew I’ll take you to the party.” I told him, “it’s fine and I didn’t mind walking.”
As I persisted my Dad pulled over a little bit before the house, threw the car in park, reached into the back of the car, and pulled me right up close to his face. I can still feel the heat from his breath, and the stare in his eyes as he said “you look at me and understand something, are you embarrassed by this car?”
I tearfully said “yes” and he grabbed me even closer and said “Don’t you ever be embarrassed by what your family has. This is the best that your mother and I could afford at the time and you’re lucky that you’re even going to this party. Don’t ever be ashamed by what your family has. It’s not about the belongings.” With that, he put the car in drive, brought me to the front of the house and said: “have a good time.” I began to say “I was sorry” and he said no we’ll talk about it later and go to your party. There was nobody in front of the house at the time and I walked into the party feeling quite upset about what I was thinking about the car. I quickly wiped my face and went inside to the party.
Here I am, 32 years later, writing about that incident. It left a profound impact on me. To this day, I’m very proud of my family and accomplishments, and I remember that lesson that my dad taught me in that moment. We went on to have a variety of many different cars in all shapes, styles, and colors including one that did not go in reverse (that’s a different story for a different day) but I’ll always remember that brown Plymouth Fury.
During this Thanksgiving week, be grateful for the loved ones in your life as well as the things that you have. Don’t focus on the things that you don’t yet have, and be grateful for the things that you do have. Continue to go out and do great work in your schools and community.
Quote: “Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are.”