Much to Be Thankful For

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

I love Thanksgiving! Isn’t it awesome that our nation designates a day for us to collectively count our blessings? And the traditions that come with it—turkey and trimmings, football, and a nice nap on the couch (I’m not the only one, am I?)—are more than okay with me. In the spirit of the season, I find myself reflecting on the people and events for which I’m grateful. In many ways, 2022 felt more normal—a return to pre-pandemic conditions. I'm so thankful for the invaluable opportunity I had to reconnect with my heritage. 

My summer vacation to Greece was long overdue. It had been 30 years since my previous visit. Greece is a country with extraordinary history and rich culture. I went back to the Dodecanese island of Kalymnos, where my father’s side of the family is from. This was the home my great-grandfather left behind at the turn of the 20th century. He came to pursue the American dream as a sponge boat captain in Tarpon Springs, Florida. For those of us with roots there, Kalymnos remains a special place. A brave, indomitable disposition permeates the island.

A stop in Athens, the country’s capital, is almost obligatory when in Greece. There’s a lot to see and do, but my time there was limited as other, new locations were on the itinerary. 
Kalamata, in the south, was serene and one of the more beautiful areas. There were also memorable stops in Thessaloniki—Greece’s second-largest city—and Kavala in the northern region. Just outside of Kavala is the ancient city of Philippi. I was fortunate to go and see the site where the Apostle Paul was imprisoned some 2000 years ago.

In every way, it was an incredible vacation. I received the generous hospitality Greece is known for at every turn. You are welcomed—treated like family—even by strangers. Greeks have an infectious enthusiasm for life. And, by the way, the food is incredible! Greece is not just scenic beaches and energetic nightclubs. There’s so much more to take in. As a whole, the country has modernized somewhat but still retains a relaxed, unpretentious character that appeals to me. I came back home feeling renewed—and appreciative.

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful to family and friends for their love and support. I’m grateful for my dedicated University of South Florida Corporate Training and Professional Education team. I’m grateful for the university’s talented leadership. And I’m grateful for you! I hope you will take some time and give thanks for whomever and whatever makes your life rich. In its finest expression, Thanksgiving allows us to hit the pause button on our busy lives—to gather as a reminder of our most precious gifts.