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Local Column

Heimerman: Thankful for struggle, growth

This Thanksgiving Day column is brought to you by the 1990s – more specifically 1998, the year Alanis Morissette released her fourth album, “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.” More specific yet, it’s inspired by the introspective hit single “Thank U.”

Unfamiliar or need a refresher? Here’s the refrain:

Thank you, India/Thank you, terror/Thank you, disillusionment/Thank you, frailty/Thank you, consequence/Thank you, thank you, silence

Now that my kids are kindergartners who have questions about every single minute aspect of life, and who love to sing the same line from songs over and over, that last thank you hits home harder now than ever before.

Jokes aside, I’m eternally grateful for my family. In fact, like many of you, I’ve already begun reflecting on the fact that I have so very much in my life to be thankful for.

But Morissette’s tune is an invaluable reminder of the sort of … let’s call them unconventional … things I’m thankful for.

In a word, I’m thankful for struggle.

Going from the “toy department” as late, great Northern Star adviser Jerry Thompson called the sports section of newspapers, to what I dubbed my “big-boy job” in November 2013 wasn’t easy. It was a pragmatic decision, to no longer burn the midnight oil every night, seeing as how we’d just had twins, but I also was eager to learn more about how the world works by working every day in news, rather than sports. I wanted to have better explanations for why things are the way they are, and the move is one of the best I’ve ever made.

It’s come with a lot of lumps, though, too, and I’m perhaps most grateful for those.

I’ve screwed things up – whether it be “hustling” mistakes, such as referring to the wrong alderman in a meeting story written on deadline, or genuinely bad judgment, such as revealing a source in order to try to pry vital information from another.

Gosh, just bringing up that last one makes my stomach turn a little. It was several years ago that I committed a cardinal sin of journalism and, you know what? It’s a mistake I’ll never make again, because it’s hard to remember a time I was so angry at myself, so desperate to unring a bell that simply couldn’t be unrung.

So often we need to screw up in order to get better. We need to cry in order to look back and laugh. I feel more confident today, more adept and capable, because of all the times I wasn’t and had to work at it, or simply had to suffer some scrapes and build some calluses.

Now I’ll take a step back even further in this reflection and say I’m thankful for the serenity, the time and my just-vivid-enough memories that have allowed me to grow.

Let’s not forget to be thankful for the bad. Our struggles have a way of putting the good, the triumphs, in perspective. And our mistakes, the crap cards we’re sometimes dealt, when handled properly and reflected on just enough when we reach the other side, might be the most formative, valuable things in our lives.

OK, now seriously, can we eat yet?

• Christopher Heimerman is the editor at the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at

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