One of the truisms of parents and their children is that there are an infinite number of things left unsaid between them. This is the season to remedy that by creating purposeful expressions of gratitude.
A few years ago, when my father was in his late 70’s, I wrote him a letter at Thanksgiving that told him some of the infinite reasons I was grateful that he was my father. In it, I listed some of the many, many things he had taught me and showed me from childhood to adulthood. I attributed to him, for example, my sense of adventure, my unfailing openness to new things, my curiosity, my love of art and music, and so many other things that enrich my life. When he died, it was one of the few things I found among his belongings.
As we enter this Thanksgiving season, regardless of whether there have been misunderstandings and rancor, long cold silences and stalemates, or constant hugging and love-fests, parents and children are usually pretty grateful towards one another for things that may surprise the other.
Write them down and deliver them on Thanksgiving Day, and experience the joy of giving.
For many years, as a dean at three Ivy League colleges and now as an AVP at a university with an extraordinary mission, I have had a front row seat to the obstacles to success that college students and their parents confront every year. Even at so-called elite, highly selective colleges such as Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, where I spent some of my career, students struggle on a daily basis to remain healthy, happy, grounded, and to stay in school. I am dedicated to helping them.