Board Chair Says Farewell to 2021 in Opening Remarks

Person expressing gratitude

Contributed by Dr. Al Cohen, Chair of the Capital Region ESD 113 Board of Directors at the January 12, 2021 board meeting.

Recently, we said farewell to the 2021 year and welcomed in 2022. For many of us, it is customary to start the new year with New Year Resolutions. Oftentimes, these resolutions have something to do with losing weight, giving up smoking, exercising more, being a more patient driver, and for students, perhaps studying more. These and many other new year resolutions are worthy initiatives. It’s too bad that many of these resolutions are forgotten within a few weeks.

It seems to me that a worthwhile and hopefully lasting new year resolution would be extending gratitude for what we have and for who we have in our lives. I think of the Vietnamese proverb, “When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.” It’s appropriate and meaningful to be thankful for our family and friends, but also be thankful for persons who we don’t actually know, but who entrust the fruits of life for us.

Most of the time, it seems we remember to be thankful for physical and tangible things, such as a new car, a comfortable home, nice clothes, and the latest tech gadget. Sure those physical things are nice to have and to be thankful for, but let us think of gratitude in the realm of social and emotional domains. How about being thankful for being included, being trusted, being acknowledged, and being appreciated and respected? How do we feel when those qualities are bestowed upon us and how often do we bestow those honors onto others. Novelist Marissa Meyer reminds us how fortunate we are to be surrounded by the beauty of nature as well as the mysteries of the universe. Ms. Meyer shared her feelings of gratitude for nature when she wrote, “I’m still thinking of the stars, one by one.”

One might consider thinking and expressing gratitude as an attitude. Thinking in positive terms can become a habit with continual practice. The more we value the gratitude for what we have been given and who we have in our lives, the more it becomes a natural part of one’s being. Ann Frank who lost her life after years of hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust continued to say her prayers while in seclusion. She never lost sight of being grateful even through the horrific existence that she and her family were forced to endure. Young Ann would give thanks for what is good, dear and beautiful. Ann’s lasting expression of gratitude is an ideal that we all can aspire to achieve.

So let us continue the traditional customs of welcoming in the new year with resolutions and as we express our intentions, let us build into the fabric of our being the value of gratitude.