The last time I mentioned my parents on Oy!Chicago, I was jokingly making fun of their inability to teach me the difference between a Shabbat candle and a birthday candle in my not-so-Jewish upbringing. But while they may not have stressed some of the Jewish traditions many Jews are accustomed to, they did just about everything else right. So this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for them.
Growing up we thank our parents a lot, but rarely do we think deeply about and articulate why, so I thought I'd take this opportunity.
Let's start out with the fact that they put me in the best position to succeed growing up. From quality education to instilling important values such as kindness and sincerity on a daily basis, I was able to learn right from wrong, and teach people with respect from a young age.
I would also not be who, or where I am today without their constant motivation and belief. As someone who graduated college without a job lined up, you could say I qualified as someone who doubted his qualifications. I moved back home, nervous that I would be a burden to them. But my parents never questioned my process or my abilities as I sought the right job. And in turn, neither did I; I found strength in their confidence in me, and eventually found a great first opportunity at Groupon.
Ultimately, I never doubted my skill set because my parents never did. Every missed basket and failed test growing up was followed up with a "that's ok, lets figure it out and you'll do better next time." With that type of belief behind you, it is easy to pick yourself off the ground on a bad day.
While kids may not think their parents always get it right, it's important for us to appreciate that every little thing our parents do for us is to make us better people. My parents used to get on me all the time for not cleaning my dishes -- it was an afterthought to me. But they drilled home the importance of keeping a clean house to the point that I now constantly go out of my way to clear other peoples' dishes from the table. It's a small thing, but it's the little stuff like cleanliness and hospitality that makes a difference.
The Jewish parent stereotype is to hover over your children until they're old enough for Medicare. Thankfully, my parents don't fit this cliché. There were certainly attentive to me, but they let me find my own way without ever pressuring me to side with their preferred option (even when it came to passing on their alma maters). I played sports like they did, but not because they forced me to sign up for teams; the joyful environment I grew up in, where my biggest smiles occurred in the living room watching college football, drove me to sign up.
And that's just one example. My parents are the best at always being a part of my life and keeping an eye on me. From warning me to be cautious when giving out my social security number, to making sure we are checking in weekly, I will always be thankful for how active my parents are in my life.
I hope you all think better of my parents now that you see beyond their failure to teach candle recognition, because whether I or my younger brother show it, we are always grateful for everything they have and continue to do for us.
Thanks Mom and Dad, and Happy Thanksgiving.
For more stories in the "Just Thought I'd Say Thanks" blog series, visit oychicago.com/thanks.