Joe Jencks


For This I Am Grateful...

For This I Am Grateful
For This I Am Grateful

My family of origin is substantial. And for the first time, we are drawing names for gift giving. Trying to keep after it all with a clan can be a logistical struggle and a financial burden. And of course, the hope of the holidays is to gather with family and friends and share time, not to go nuts and broke all at once. So we have chosen to deemphasize gift giving. We all manage the season differently. I am traveling on tour with a portable Christmas tree, decked out with tiny-weeny glass ornaments and colorful lights. It is a cheerful and hopeful symbol to me, in a time of limited daylight. My beloved has asked to opt out of receiving gifts, and instead requested that contributions be made in her name to charities of choice. Other friends and family members are dusting off the Menorah or Chanukia and are frantically looking for the candles they bought last year on sale. Whatever holiday you honor and however you chose to celebrate it, may it be blessed by the presence of people you love! For my part, I thought I would start the holiday season by considering some of the blessings and gifts that are already in my life.

I am alive.
I am reasonable healthy.
I have a place to live that is safe, warm, and inhabited by my stuff.
I am married to a wonderful person, who also lives in that safe, warm place.
We have enough to eat.
We have a mutually nurturing, loving, and respectful relationship.

I am in a wonderful band.
I have a dependable car in which I travel the country.
Scores of people welcome me into their safe, warm places all over the continent.
(This is really fabulous when I can’t be in my own safe warm place, because I am in a wonderful band. Somewhat circular logic I know.)

I have beautiful musical instruments.
Lots of people all over the continent come to see the band play.
They also buy our recordings (which help pay for the car and the safe warm place).
They also believe in us, and help us produce concerts.
Those concerts allow us to offer our talents to the world.
(And to play our beautiful musical instruments, and sing together!)

I come from a tremendously decent family.
I am blessed with an abundance of extended family, in-laws, and chosen family.
They are all genuine people who work hard, love sincerely, and give generously.
I have nieces and nephews who are smart and talented.
I have a safety net in these people, should I ever find myself in trouble.

I live in a country where we have democratic elections.
We have a constitution and a bill of rights that guarantees certain civil protections.
I am free to criticize my government, with out fear for my life.
Those of us, who occasionally disagree, may gather publically share our concerns.

Hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens choose to serve in our armed forces.
They believe in this country too, and put their lives at risk.
I can disagree with how my government asks them to serve.
And I can still be grateful for their gift of service and courage.
Hundreds of thousands more serve in fire, police, rescue, and park-ranger services.
When it hits the fan, they are on the line.
Many of them are union workers.

I live in a country where workers are allowed to organize.
When injustice happens in the workplace, there is recourse.
When enough people agree, they can pursue representation by a union.
And the law of the land guarantees that right.
I am a member of a union, A.F.M. Local 1000.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to follow my own dreams.
I have been blessed with the chance to realize my own potential.
And, to place that potential in service to the people and communities I cherish.
I wake every morning with good work to do, and the tools to do it.
I get to use art and music as a tool for healing, connection, education, and growth.

I am grateful for music.
I am grateful for friends and loved ones.
I am grateful for time in nature, sunsets, gardens, sunrises, and full moons.
I am grateful for crisp winter nights and warm summer breezes.
I am grateful for knowing how to cook, and getting to do so for people I love.
I am grateful for trains, movies, chili peppers, tortillas, sweaters, lilacs, and Legos.
I am grateful for teddy bears, Honey Crisp apples, toothpicks, antibiotics, and hugs.

And that’s just a start… Wow!
There’s a lot to be grateful for!

May your holidays be warm and blessed!

-Joe Jencks