Yes, I’ve lived in Canada for 12 years so far. Yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, and each year so far I’ve managed to remember just in time and go buy a turkey and do dinner and muster up a thankful attitude.
It still feels foreign to me, perhaps because all of the other major holidays coincide, and this one sticks out. So I find myself each November, sitting here on U.S. Thanksgiving Day feeling….what? Not un-thankful, certainly, because I love my life here. But just a little bit…disoriented.
So today, I’m going to follow a lifelong tradition, and have my annual Thanksgiving celebration. No, I’m not talking about cooking for 3 days, eating way too much turkey, and having heartburn for a week. 😉 I’m talking about taking a few minutes to list what I’m thankful for.
Let’s see…what’s the rundown? If I were at one of the (plentiful!) church services of my youth, the expected list would be “I thank Jesus for my family, a roof over my head, a job, and most of all salvation amen” and then I’d plop down and look around me as everyone else rattled off variations on the same list. (Those of you who know what I mean, can I get an “Amen”? hmmm…old habits die hard!)
Today, I want to thank God for – are you ready for this? – a book. Specifically, SOS at Midnight, by Walker Tompkins, K6ATX. When I was 11 years old, a doctor friend of my father’s gave an entire series of books by this author to him, to pass on to my brother. I’m an avid reader, as are all of my siblings and many in my extended family, and so fresh books were devoured as soon as they came through the door. These were different, though – these were about ham radio and science and kids and even though they weren’t exactly classic literature, they intrigued me. My friend’s dad was a ham and when I accosted him at church and went on and on about my desire to get my license, he just smiled and told me about a class that would be starting soon. (Thanks, Mr. Boyd!)
I took the classes, made some friends, and most importantly, got my license. My Novice License, to be exact, and followed it shortly with an upgrade to Technician class so that I could get to 2 meters, the holy grail for me. See, phone privileges were limited in my circle, but radio? Since everyone could hear it, radio was ok. I get a giggle now looking back at how patient these people were with a bunch of kids taking over their repeaters, but I only recall one or two people getting grumpy about it. Most of them were friendly and welcoming and did nothing whatsoever to squash my enthusiasm. So I became KB5IZZ, a call sign I still hold. It let me know that my brain *could* do math and science, and moreover, that I had an affinity for it that went far beyond my serious dislike of Abeka math 😉 It’s a whole new world when you *want* to learn something, and I was highly motivated.
Enter the move to the Great White North, about a year after I was licensed. 13 years old, homeschooled, moving to rural Maine – I was sure life was over. And in a lot of ways, my life as I knew it had ceased to exist. For the very first time I was outside the circle I grew up in, and as sheltered as my existence still was, I was meeting new friends from all walks of life.
Thanks to my trusty handie-talkie, I soon met all the local hams. None of them, of course, were my age – but I did meet the granddaughter of a pair of hams that’s still a fantastic friend today (hey, Sharon! yes, you should get licensed sometime 😀 ) I also met people who were beginning to combine computers with radio…oooh….a whole new world! I mean, we had SSTV (slow scan TV) but people were starting to make computers talk to each other! Wow! Enter the little Tandy 1000EX with the disc that showed an illustration of two computers with a line in between them – you could, one day, write something on your computer and send it to another and somebody could READ it?
So a few years passed in a little geeky blur of radio and computers – yes, I had friends then too, who were all remarkably tolerant of my utter geekiness and loved me anyway (Hey, Bren <3). Then I met some people from Canada on 2 meters (hey, Steph! Tell your parents I said thanks, again!) and we met each other in real life, too. They knew this guy, they were sure I should meet this guy, they insisted I should meet this guy, finally I agreed to meet this guy….
And so I met The Husband. Man meets geek, they fall in love….fast forward to ’97, and we got married. As hard as it may be to fathom, for the first 3 years of our marriage, we couldn’t afford a computer and I seldom got on the air – marriage and work and just life in general got in the way. We got a computer in 2000, and I began entering the world of the internet to do research on a bunch of things. Yes, I remember a world pre-google, as shocking as that is. A world when you had to get very, very specific with key words and even then got 20 results.
A few more years….July of 2003 – I was *finally* pregnant for The Boy, and on bedrest. That’s when I seriously began thanking God for the internet – you just try laying on your left side for almost 17 weeks with nothing else to do! So I started poking around online, finding friends, and trying not to go out of my mind with boredom.
Once I had our son, I began going through all the mommy-boards out there, looking for advice and friendship during those endless hours of nursing-at-keyboard. I found a wonderful online home, Gentle Christian Mothers, and began to make friends. The moms there were so encouraging as I started to slowly try to freelance with my photography skills, doing what I could to contribute to our income now that I was a stay-at-home mom. Eventually, I needed a website, couldn’t afford one, and decided to try to make my own. Of course, those early efforts were pathetic!! – but they introduced me to a whole new world. Not too long after that point, I cold-called one of the administrators at GCM (hey, Crystal!) and said something along the lines of “hey! I’ve enjoyed playing Scrabble with you online. By the way, um, your website? I’m learning how to do them and I don’t know too much about it but I’d love to try to make yours better what do you think?” and she said “sure!” Um, really? Turns out, she had been praying for the right person to come along, God told her he would send someone who shared her vision, and I called her just in time. (I think that she surely must have, when she saw my rudimentary skills, began to doubt what she’d heard! But she was always encouraging 🙂 ) I knew I was in over my head, and so I called another GCM admin (Hey, Amamda!!) and asked for help. She oh-so-patiently put up with my incoherent phone calls at odd times, and pointed me in the right direction without ever getting annoyed – or at least she hid it well! One of the best things she did? “Hey, you should check out this thing called WordPress, I think it may do what you need better than an HTML site” – so I joined WordPress when it was at 1.5.
WordPress was so awesome! I started learning more, and more, and there was such a supportive community behind it. I slowly moved into opening my own business and began doing sites for people. After a brief flirtation with Mimbo, I found Revolution by Brian Gardner. He patiently put up with my initial email inquiries, and I ended up buying into his developer’s pack. Over time, I became a moderator/approved designer on his forums, and my business began expanding. I’m now working full time for StudioPress, Brian’s new business, and making an actual living being a stay-at-home mom.
So…to sum up this incredibly long post: I’m thankful for the book that led to me getting my license that led to me making life-long friends that led to me meeting my husband that led to me having my child that led to me making more friends that led to me getting into computers that led to me having the best job I’ve ever had that’s led to me being able to help with putting a roof over our heads…and, of course, I’m thankful for the hand of God that’s held my life so securely from the very beginning.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends 🙂