Thanksgiving is every day

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist

I was not your model kid. I don’t think I ever made the honor roll. I’ve swept my share of school floors, and beat hundreds (if not thousands) of erasers after school.

I was hard-headed, stubborn, and all boy. I’d like to think that my elementary school principal, Mrs. Hagler, bequeathed her paddle to someone in her family to cherish as a symbol of discipline, because I know that paddle well.

I offered my middle school teacher, Mr. Newell, the privilege of paddling as well. He and my grandmother were on a first name basis and I feel his paddle was as much mine as it was his. His method was different. You could hear those licks out in the hall.

I think I started to get the message in high school, but still had to be redirected on several occasions. I then met my match on a hot summer day in August, as I stepped off the bus at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C.

Thirteen weeks of conditioning was meant to break my stubbornness and I believe they made their point. After graduating boot camp, I entered what we call the fleet, where I still required guidance.

It took me nearly 23 years of life to realize I wasn’t always right, nor was I Superman, and that maybe everyone from Mrs. Hagler to my senior drill instructor was trying to tell me something. I’m not sure if it is age, wisdom or life experience, but I have learned to be thankful for so many things, especially their exhaustive attempts to point me in the right direction.

Exposure to third world countries made me thankful for the comforts of this country, my profession allows me to be thankful for the chance to be part of keeping this county safe, and being a father makes be thankful for every day I wake up with another chance to be a dad.

I recently had to have a face-to-face discussion with my 7-year-old about misbehaving in school. As I looked into his eyes and counseled him on what he’d done and the consequences he had coming, I felt myself aging. I realized he was me and I have a lifetime ahead of being a dad to him and his two brothers. But like Mrs. Hagler, I must not give up or grow weary, because even though she doesn’t know it, I think I turned out OK — it just took a while.

As we enter into the holiday season, and as Thanksgiving approaches, please be thankful for the opportunity you have to be an impact on someone’s life. You may never see the fruit of your labor, but I am confident that it will be harvested and thanks will be given.

Capt. Chris George is a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He can be reached at cgeorge@shelbyso.com.