Working in the media, it's easy to become what Ned Flanders would call a "Negative Nellie."
We tend to see and focus on the most negative aspects of humanity - especially as of late, with the Petraeus scandal, the downright nasty presidential campaign and Israel and Hamas trying to blow up the Middle East. It's harder to look past the heartwrenching stories of natural disasters and wars to catch small glimpses of hope within.
Yet to be truly happy in life, you have to grasp on to those glimmers of goodness and never let go. In this time of Thanksgiving, it's vital to see the glass half-full, a quarter-full or even that one drop left in the darkest of days. The last few years have been the hardest of my life, but I still have an abundance of things for which to be thankful.
The first of those would be my seven-week-old son, who finally made his trip home from Marquette a few weeks ago. Watching my wife carry him through our front door was the joy to end all joys. Although it's been the mother of all adjustments having Ben home - sleeping in small bursts, cleaning up any number of bodily functions and abiding by someone else's schedule at all times - every second has been worth it.
I'm not one for normally taking many photos, but the magnitude of pictures posted on my Facebook account has grown immensely over the last few weeks. Every captured instance of happiness, sleepiness or wide-eyed curiosity is a cause for celebration. Even when he's screaming as loud as he can, I'm thankful those tiny lungs have developed from not even functioning fully to producing curdling squeals.
I'm also thankful for my wife, who has indubitably learned the true definition of patience over the past seven weeks. Anyone who says stay-at-home parents have it easy, or spend all their time watching "Days of Our Lives," obviously has not spent any time with babies. The crying, feeding, diaper changes and lack of any time alone would drive many people crazy, and "my wife the saint," which is what I'm calling her from now on, has handled it with grace and perseverance.
Lastly, I'm thankful for the kindness of the community. I received several encouraging emails after last month's column, and discovered many had gone through similar situations. All my coworkers showed the utmost of concern every day, and my stomach would like to thank the many people who have brought our family food in a time when even pouring a bowl of cereal seemed to be a chore. Special shoutouts go to my coworkers Jenn, Jane and Brandon, Aggie Ahola, the wonderful group at Grace United Methodist Church (it's like Christmas Day waiting for people to show up with meals) and our neighbors, the Wilkinsons.
The generosity this community can show, even in difficult economic times, still astounds me. It has restored a battered and bruised faith in humanity.
So for that, and any number of other blessings in my life, I am thankful.
Zach Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.