As we draw to the close of another calendar year, and as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, you might say I’m in a fairly reflective mood. Perhaps more than usual, which is saying something.

One thing I’m very thankful for as I think about this past year is for the wonderful opportunities I had with my parents over the past 15 years or so in which we were open about our feelings for each other. Growing up, our household wasn’t the most affectionate in the world. We weren’t a huggy kissy family, nor did we really ever say “I love you.” That all changed about a decade and a half ago, and we definitely made up for lost time.

So many people miss out on this blessing. I met a woman at a church I once attended who shared with me her story of an argument she had with her dad one morning just before he took off for work. She said some pretty harsh things to him that day which have haunted her ever since. On his way to work that morning, he had a heart attack while behind the wheel of his car, and died.

I’m so thankful my family had many years to hug and kiss, and verbally affirm our love for one another. I’m thankful that when it came time to tell my mom it was OK to let go of this life because we’d be fine, that I had left nothing unsaid. Sometimes I told her how I felt about her, sometimes I wrote it. But in any case, it was important for me to express my love and appreciation for the woman, the mother that she was. I’ve done the same for my dad. As is the case for probably many father-son relationships, we weren’t terribly affectionate. But I recall driving home from spending a few days with them over Christmas, and being overwhelmed with emotion. My dad took such amazing care of my mom for so many years. It was truly inspiring. That was my mom. He took care of her every need. On that drive home, I called him and poured out my heart to him. I don’t know if it was awkward for him. If it was, it probably wasn’t because of some macho guy thing as much as it’s hard to receive accolades for things you just do for someone you love.

The past 15 years of my life have taught me the importance of leaving nothing left unsaid to those in your life who have inspired you, sacrificed for you, believed in you. Tomorrow is promised to no one, so don’t put it off. Maybe there is someone from whom you are estranged. Maybe today is the day that you make the decision that this person is of far greater value than that thing which caused the division. Maybe there’s someone you figure just knows you love them, but you haven’t taken the time to tell them, and tell them why.

Take the time to think of the people who have participated in, and contributed to your life in ways which have made you a stronger and better person. If it’s at all possible, reach out to them and let them know that their influence has inspired you to greater things. Believe me, you’ll feel great, and I’m willing to bet you’ll make their day.

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