July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.

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June 19 – father figure

330/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  It’s dad’s day.  The day when male role models/caregivers/fathers/father figures are being recognized for their part.  Yes, I’m the first to say that moms are way important overall for children but if the dad is in the picture, he also matters and makes a difference.  Dads can be grand-dads and uncles, brothers and cousins especially in this day and age.  For all those fathers out there that may not be in their kids’ lives daily but do try, kudos to you.  For all those awesome fathers who are there for their kids, same on you.  And for those guys who are stepping up and being “dad” (whatever that may mean), well major props for you.  Yes, I’m second fiddle to my kids’ mom and I totally understand that bond.  My kids don’t necessarily appreciate me in the same way and I get it – especially with the angsty teenager – oh how I miss those elementary days with hand-made crafts and big hugs 😉   However, I was the same way and didn’t realize the value of my dad until much later.  Yes, he wasn’t around literally and figuratively but he did the best he could given his circumstances.  Thank you to him and to all the uncles who stepped in and helped out my mom to get us raised.  Most of you were not “real” uncles in the traditional sense of the word as you were more friends of the family or distant relatives but you were at times more real than my biological uncles and I truly appreciate you being there for assisting the family.  This one also goes out to my mom who was my dad for most of that time – took on both roles and yes, it was tough but you did the best you could and that’s not forgotten.  I know I’m not the best of dads by far as I didn’t have a consistent father figure to model myself but I try.  Hopefully one day, I have the same fatherly connections that I see out there in the social media world and will eventually measure up to my kids’ expectations but until then, I will keep on keeping on and try to get this dad thing right!  Cheers to all the dads!

March 3 – hockey dads

222/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Late night gratitude post – just getting home from hanging out with the hockey dads – the dads of the hockey players on my son’s team. I’m at a little bit of a loss. I’m not a hockey dad at all. I go to my son’s games. I am a dad. Does that make me a true hockey dad? Especially since I don’t really know the rules? Okay, who am I kidding – don’t really know the game? But this night out had nothing to do with hockey! It had to do with the shared camaraderie of having our grade 10 boys in hockey together. Oh, and the fact that we also like to have alcohol while we talk about life now and life back then. I didn’t really get to know any of the hockey dads that well over the season(s) because I kept my distance lest they discover the fact that I was not really a true hockey dad but none of the guys tonight or over the years of my son’s hockey career have ever given me any grief over my lack of knowledge – it has been more of my concern. The hockey dads that I have been fortunate to have met have been very accepting and have kept me in the circle – I know they know I know nothing except that I’m there for my son and I think they recognize this. In a way, I am getting to play out my sports career dreams vicariously by being a part of the hockey dad clique. I thank each and every hockey dad who has gone out of the way to connect with me as you have made this non-hockey dad feel a part of a bigger brotherhood that I was always looking on from the outside! Puck tossed in your honour!

February 9 – to my son!

200/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s a milestone – gratitude post 200 and on what day?? My son’s 16 birthday! It was fated to be! There are a few gratitude posts I’ve been looking forward to composing and this one is at the top of the list. I absolutely love my son. Yes, like any other teenager he drives me crazy and has tested me quite well over the last couple of years but that’s what having a teenager is all about as I, too, am experiencing growth through him. When we were first pregnant with him, I wanted a daughter only for the mere fact that I grew up with all sisters and aunts, the cousins around my age were all girls and I already had a daughter. I was scared of being a dad to a boy as I didn’t know if I would be “manly” enough – masculine, sports-minded, showing him the things he needed to know etc (yes, I fell into the gender binary stereotypes). However, just a few months before he was to be born, I remember telling my wife that I wanted a boy. She was surprised but not as surprised as I was – I realized that I needed and wanted a son. A son would be the thing that would get me outside my comfort zone but he would also fulfill me. Well, the son I was gifted with was off the scales – sports minded, uber-masculine, tall (was in the 100th percentile for his height every single time), popular, intelligent and kind to others. He is the antithesis of me and for a brief moment, I wondered if we were going to be a tv movie of the week because of a hospital baby mix-up but yes, he does look like me 😉 He also proved to me that it is not nurture – in his case it is mostly nature. Who he is and will be is all inside of him – his environment (namely me) can give him certain things but all his interests are sprouting because of some innate drives so my parenting is secondary to his true essence. Everyday I am thankful that I have him as my son. Because of him, I have learned (okay, know a little) about hockey, have been re-introduced to 50 Cent and newer rappers, share the pleasure in watching “our” shows, force him to do things he wants to but won’t admit and generally just enjoy our atypical father-son bond. To Ethan, you are an awesome young man and so glad you are my son! Love you!

February 7 – sports, sports, sports

198/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So it’s Superbowl Sunday – does absolutely nothing for me except maybe the half-time show and the lead-out show (the one right after the game) but even those this year aren’t anything spectacular. However, I do wish I was one of those guys who was a super-fan. I will be honest, I am envious of the camaraderie/brotherhood and the whole spectacle of the game but I know nothing about football – its plays or the teams. I tried watching it last year because well Seattle was in it to defend their championship (is that even the right term?) but I really couldn’t get into it. So who am I actually thanking in this gratitude post – sports fans for showing me what I am missing out on. This post does get me a bit down due to the fact that I never got into sports of any kind let alone football (you know what kind of Hockey Dad I am if you’ve read my previous blogs!!). I wished I was an athletic kid so that I had played sports or had a dad around to watch sports with or was even put into sports against my will but none of that happened. I could say that the lack of sports has shaped me into the man I am today and that is very true but when it comes to days such as playoffs, championships, finals – I want to be on the inside if not on the bandwagon, even just hanging on but alas, I am not even running after it, I’m on a different street in another city altogether not knowing the locale of said bandwagon 😦 So yes, I am a unique individual but not happy about lacking sports knowledge and some days I wish I was just like the rest of them – the sports fan brethren. To all sports fans, here’s me from the outside looking in with great admiration and jealousy at something I have never been a part of and probably never will be.

January 10 – the power of coaching

170/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve never played sports. I never had the body or skills for it as a child/teenager as well, my parents did not value sports – their focus was on my education. Given all this in my psyche, when I finally became fit and a young adult, I didn’t even consider taking up a sport as I had convinced myself that I am not athletic and to this day I have never attempted any physical activity other than working out. As a parent myself, perhaps on some subconscious level, I wanted to live out my sports dreams and I lucked out. My son who loves hockey – from street to ball to ice. I give him every opportunity and he takes it. This past weekend we were up in Hope for a tournament and had the opportunity to bond but he also had the opportunity to play but this is all due to the coaches he has had. As every person knows, coaches volunteer their time to give the players the opportunity to play. The teen players may not realize/appreciate the time and effort that the coaches put in but the parents do. My son has been fortunate that his coaches and their spouses arrange for great tournaments for the boys to play in and awesome social venues for the parents to bond with each other. As I mentioned in another blog entry for the fellow parents who have accepted me as a hockey dad, I am not the most hockey savvy fellow but I am so glad that the coaches can make up for my lack of knowledge and provide my son with an invaluable experience that he will reflect on as he become a young man and beyond. To my son’s coaches and all coaches in general, I drop a puck at center ice (I hope I said that right) in your honour!!

November 20 – hockey dad

119/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve said it several times and I’m not embarrassed to keep admitting it – I have no clue about sports: how to play, what the rules are, how to watch. No clue at all. I mean it’s my second worst category on Trivia Crack – yes, it’s so 2014 but that’s not the point 😉 So when I ended up with the 6 foot 3 uber jock of a son who took up soccer as a youngster, moved on to martial arts and then ice and ball hockey as a teenager, I was definitely way outside my comfort zone. Whether it was a soccer game back in the day or the current hockey games, I would show up to support my son but sit in the stands by myself avoiding any contact with the other parents. I’m sure most, if not all, of the parents thought I was a snob but it was really my unease with not knowing what was going on in the game; thus, it was much easier not having to make small talk about something I had no clue about by just avoiding any conversation. Add to the fact that I would show up in a ¾ length coat, dress shirt, merino sweater, chinos and leather dress shoes while all the other parents were in the typical cold weather gear of down jackets, jeans, boots and toques – yup, I really separated myself! My son has been with the same coaches for the past 4 years now and last season I finally came out of my shell – yes, lots to do with the persistence and effort made by the other parents and well, of course, beer!! Especially on away tournaments, I got to know the parents and most of them now know that I have no clue what is going on but they know that I am there for my son plus I have started wearing ice rink appropriate attire (okay, I am trying – awesome ushanka notwithstanding). I totally appreciate these parents for accepting me as part of the crew and that I am a hockey dad, albeit an atypical hockey dad. Thanks to all of you for making me feel like I belong. I raise a hockey stick in your honour – damn, high sticking, okay I take my place in the penalty box in your honour 🙂