I don’t think as often as I should about how thankful I am. I am thankful for a new reason as my wife and I made our last college tuition payment on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We have been paying for college for our six kids in one way or another for the past 21 years. We’re more thankful for the fact that they’re all healthy and doing really well.
At the beginning of the year as I was getting acquainted with my seniors and they with me, one asked, “How much do you make Mr. Johnson?” I usually don’t respond but this time, I said, “I just hit $100,000 on the nose. I always wanted to make $100,000 and now I did it.” The class in unison (I’m not exaggerating) were in awe that I made that much money. I said, “Gee, thanks a lot.” One said, “We just didn’t know teachers didn’t make that much money.” Let that sink in for a second…then I explained how much we pay for a 100% health care plan about $21,000 a year if you include the district contribution. $24,000 a year by the way is the national average. Then I pointed out that I pay 10% of my check into my pension. What’s a pension? I explained that, and then said only 13% of non-union, non-government workers have a pension. Then I explained the cost of college, about $20,000 a year, if you’re lucky. I encouraged them to commute to a CSU in the Bay Area or Stan State. Then I pointed out that my federal tax rate is 24%. And, that 2003 Toyota Tundra in the parking lot? Yup, that’s mine. “But honey, it has 173,000 miles on it, it’s paid off, and it runs great!”
All too often, I find myself complaining about the cost of living, health care, college, price of this and that, and then holidays roll around and it jars me back to reality and how thankful I should be…all the time.
It reminds me of my upbringing…my dad dying when I was three months old, leaving my mom with six kids to raise in cold, cold, cold Michigan. She moved to California to be near her sister and to get out of that snow! Can you imagine dressing six kids to go out in the snow just to get a carton of milk? I remember drinking powdered Carnation milk for meals and eating fast so I could get seconds. That wasn’t easy as the youngest. I still eat far too fast, and now you know why. My mom worked nights as a nurse so she could be there in the morning to see us off to school and be there to cook dinner when we returned. And she made it to all of my games.
I’m not trying to bore you with my personal life, but trying to make a point which I’ll finish tomorrow. I know you can’t wait. No, my wife doesn’t get my dry sense of humor either.