For the fourth annual Chi Psi Thanksgiving blog series, we asked the Central Office staff to tell us about what they are most thankful for this holiday season. Today you’ll hear from Alpha Visitor James Holman.
What are you thankful for this holiday season?
The immediate thing that comes to mind whenever I think about the holiday season is tradition. Every family has their own, distinct traditions that each year make the season their own unique blend of nostalgia. Interestingly, these traditions do not really substantially set any one family’s holiday celebration apart when viewed from 10,000 feet. My family’s Thanksgiving, on the surface level, probably looks very similar to your family’s Thanksgiving—family, turkey, dressing/stuffing, a little football, games, and a movie. From that vantage point the holidays link us together as a culture. What makes the holidays special though are the family traditions that take place year after year and the story of how they started. Collectively, they are the force that helps bring your family together each year. I have enjoyed a fall semester spent learning about the tradition of Chi Psi families (alphas) spread across the map. As everyone travels home I want to touch on the things that I am most thankful for this year.
1. My Health
780 million people do not have access to clean water on a daily basis. Each year 3.4 million people die from water-related illnesses in the developing world. An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day. Now think about everything else we use water for—cooking, cleaning surfaces, protecting our buildings and forests from fire, et cetera ad nauseam. That is just one health issue that most Americans never have to deal with that is a matter of life or death in other countries. There are a myriad of other basic health issues that I could get into in-depth that we take for granted.
Beyond this I am thankful for the health of my immediate friends and family. Every year I get older, the world gets a little bit more stretched out as my friends move all over not only the United States, but the world. This has been a terrific year for all of my loved ones. My friends are getting engaged and married and are starting successful careers. Next month, my grandmother will celebrate her 95th birthday. She is still living independently and even does her own yard work! This has been a fortunate year for my family, and I am extremely thankful.
2. My Upbringing
After four months on the road going everywhere from Berkeley, California to Clinton, New York I am thankful for my upbringing. Being raised a Mennonite in a blue collar town rife with poverty has served me well. Youngstown, the city where I grew up, has the highest concentrated poverty rate (49%) among core cities in the United States’ 100 largest metropolitan areas. Going to public school in an environment that had both ethnic and economical diversity has led me to the perspective that I can learn something from pretty much anyone. It has given me an incredible ability to relate to people that come from very different backgrounds and hold vastly divergent interests. I am thankful for my parents who have consistently supported me, especially when I have made it hard for them to do so. The number one lesson that they taught me growing up was to always take pride in your work. While I can look back on events in my past and wish that the results would have turned out differently, that mentality has meant that I rarely regret the effort that I put forth.
Also important to my upbringing are the friends that I made through my undergraduate experience at Miami University. Chi Psi was such a formative experience throughout my college years that I struggle to explain what kind of person I would be today without ever joining. What started out as just an organization I belonged to quickly became my family away from home. They are at the same time my biggest supporters and biggest critics. They keep me grounded and motivated. This goes double to my two siblings. My older sister Holly loves to tell me everything that I could get better at and my younger brother David loves to get me to loosen up.
3. My New Friendships
I have been fortunate to make several new friendships with people that I would have never met had I never become an Alpha Visitor. I have learned so much about myself and areas where I can continue to grow because of all the different people I have met. I could go into detail but would probably leave out some deserving individuals. To everyone that I have gotten the chance to meet over the past 5 months–it has been a pleasure and I look forward to many years of friendship.
James Holman, Rho Delta ’12