4 Minutes That Changed My Life Forever II, a Thoughtful Thanksgiving

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Teaching Kids About Money

For those of you that have not read about the loss of our dear son Isaac, I encourage you to read it as this post is based largely off of that one. We lost Isaac on November 10th and wondered how life would go on. My wife’s birthday was just four days later and as hard as it was we had to celebrate it. It was part of the grieving process and looking back it helped us take a healthy hiatus from our heartache. Not to say that we wanted to move on, but we still had to do the normal things that life is about. But, then came Thanksgiving two short weeks later.

With What Just Happened Can I Be Thankful?

Losing a child, as far as I have experienced in life, is one of the most difficult things if not the hardest thing that a parent can experience. There can be such mixed emotions and feelings of powerlessness that it can be difficult to be thankful for much of anything. I’ll be honest, that it was both a difficult Thanksgiving as well as a sweet one. Part of me felt like I had nothing to be thankful for; after all, I had just lost my son. But the other part knew all too well that I had plenty to be thankful for. I had a beautiful wife (and still do) and a wonderful daughter. Once I was able to look beyond myself I saw that I had many, many things to be thankful for. It was difficult to go through the motions of the day, but was an important part of the grieving process that helped us heal just a little more. But, soon after that day, we were left wondering how to move forward.

Why I Love Thanksgiving

Now that we’re four years removed from Isaac’s death, I can distance myself a bit and just see how blessed of a man I am. Very shortly after we lost Isaac my wife got pregnant again! We weren’t by any means trying to replace him, but it was a natural decision as we both wanted to have a decent sized family. We had some elevated fear going into this pregnancy, but thankfully the Trisomy 18 is not hereditary and happens at conception so it was out of our control. To our joy, we had a beautifully healthy boy…Perry! He’s all boy and if given the chance will willingly be Buzz Lightyear for a day. Two years after (this past February) we added another boy…JP and now have our decent sized family. Each year now as Thanksgiving comes up I reflect on just how blessed I am. I get to think back again at how much I have been given and that we have been brought to the edge and back. My wife and I have three wonderful little hooligans (pictured above) and have all that we could ask for. No we’re not rich in cash, but we’re rich in so many other ways that matters so much more than money.

What Are You Giving Thanks For?

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and especially the last four, is how important it is to give thanks every day and not just on Thanksgiving. That can be easier said than done, but in the craziness of each day I find it truly rewarding to give thanks. After the slightest bit of reflection I can see that there’s so much to be thankful for. I have a beautiful family, a home to live in, a job that I love, clothes on my back, a warm bed to sleep in at night, and food in our kitchen, and so many other countless things. My question to you, my reader, is what are you giving thanks for? Can you find things that you can be thankful for each day? I find that life is much sweeter when you can find those things and can enjoy them to their fullest.


Thank you all who’ve read my emotional ramblings this past week. I am not an emotional person by nature, so it’s a bit uncomfortable for me. I’ll return to my more practical things here soon. What Thanksgiving plans do you have? Do you enjoy Thanksgiving?


Photo courtesy of: Nicole Schmoll

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.