I was going through piles of books the other day and I found my high school yearbook. I was thinking of tossing it. Yes, tossing it in the “to be burned” basket to take on our next camping trip for fuel. But of course, before I could finalize plans to do that, I had to skim through. Mind you, my high school years were not all fun and games. They were difficult in many ways. Here’s a classic example of how things went for me. My yearbook picture that was randomly chosen (by I’m sure a very bored photographer or now that I think of it, one of my classmates on the yearbook team) was the worst of the five shots they took. My head is tilted strangely, and my chin is jutted out. I hated the picture the moment I saw it. My tortured youth went out with one last flaming image for the whole class to forever remember me by. Such humiliation! Would it ever end? I’m not really sure, but at this point, I no longer care. That’s bliss, to no longer care if people think less of you because you look like a freak. That should make someone laugh!
After I replayed my dislike of my yearbook picture enough times to be tired of my indignation, I started to read the messages from my classmates. I was surprised to find a young man who said he really liked my quote and I had made him think. It was signed “Love John”. Why hadn’t I ever noticed this sweet message? I could have rung John up and asked what he was doing for the summer. (Like that would ever happen). I read the book from front to back, even the teacher’s section. At the picture of my home room teacher I found an inspiring personal message. It was the first time I read that message. Decades later I read her message to my teenage self who should have read it then. She saw promise in me, and took the time to say so, which is encouraging even today. Words are powerful and written down have power that can travel far into the future. It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States, a day of a traditional meal with family (or Zoomed with family in 2020) and a time to focus on thankfulness. I’m thankful for a lot of things like my son in-law recovering from COVID -19 without hospitalization and that I have a job, a place to live, deepening friendships even in a pandemic. But today in this post I’m marking that I’m thankful for the words of my homeroom teacher and all those adults who take the time to encourage the generation below to believe in themselves and give life a chance. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!