Thanksgiving and Family

A retrospective and the future.

I have a lot to be thankful for — a house to live in, food to eat, a car to get around, a phone to call with. But one of the most important things in life that I’m thankful for is my family. Yet I’ve shown that appreciation the least.

My dad, at age 61, is a hardware/software test engineer at a very small, pretty obscure tech company that works on PC parts, more specifically, memory. His English isn’t that great, and his programming skills are rusty. With the declining market for computers, he worries about losing his job. People have been laid off, and the company is shrinking. But he still works hard at his job. His own father is ill in Taiwan, but he can’t go back and visit at the risk of losing his job over the week that he takes off.

My mom works as a, well, mom. And she’s pretty darn good at it. Having lived in college on my own for three years now, I now know the difficulties of maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of an apartment. It’s hard, with three other apartmentmates. My mom, on her own, manages an entire house. And my mom’s suffering for it, her body gradually running into more problems: aching arms and fingers, weak knees.

And my sister is a high school senior, applying for colleges now. She worries about getting into a good college and getting into business school. She’s at the point in life where AP tests and high school grades are her biggest worries.

My family has always been a simple one. We’ve lived a simple lifestyle. We own a 1990s Toyota Corolla that always has engine problems, but we keep it anyway, just in case something happens to our Honda Civics. We’ve never owned a flat screen TV and still have a TV that takes up about maybe 9 cubic feet of volume in the house, at only 29". My first video game system was a Wii, when I was halfway through high school. We used the dinosaur prepaid phones for most of our lives, and our PCs ran on Windows 2000 and XP.

Yet we got by our lives while others had much more. I’ve always asked for more, being an immature child before college. I argued with my parents, talked back to them, and said some nasty things whenever things got too heated. I didn’t understand a lot of their decisions and choices. I refused to.

In retrospect, I’m really sorry for all of that and don’t really mean any of it. I wish I could go back and change it all, but what’s done is done.

In reality, I’m proud of every single one of my family members. They’re the most amazing people in the world. Since college, I’ve realized more and more about what my parents gone through for me and how much stress and pressure they go through every day. I’ve learned how much my sister looks up to me and needs me to be a good brother. I was just too naive and myopic back then to realize it.

Now, it’s my turn to start taking care of them. I stopped relying on my parents so much. I’ve completely stopped asking them for money for food. Instead, I’ve been working as an undergraduate researcher and a part-time software engineering intern to make up for it.

That money, other than for my own college expenses, is for my family.

I help pay for gas when we go out. I treat my family out to lunch and dinner. I bought my parents an iPad so that my dad can use LINE with my grandpa in the hospital in Taiwan. I chipped in for a 40" flat-screen TV so that my mom wouldn’t have to squint so much and could watch her Chinese channels on her laptop through the TV (yes, our TV is that old). And I’m going to get my whole family their first real smartphones.

Materialism aside, I call home more often than I ever did before. I can tell that my mom and dad are happy for that. My dad comes over and sits next to the webcam every time just to hear me tell them about what’s going on in my life. My sister asks me for advice ranging from school to programming to college apps, and I gladly share everything I’ve learned.

I only wish that one day, my dad can retire in happiness and my mom can stop doing so much work at home. A day when they can stop worrying and start enjoying life. I want to send my dad back to Taiwan to visit his father in the hospital, and my mom back to Taiwan to visit her sisters and parents.

My motivation is fueled by these goals, and they’re what thrusts me forward with such power and determination in life.

So thank you mom, thank you dad, thank you sis, for giving me a family I can love and enjoy life with. With a family who lives as simply as they do, they may not need much to be happy. They probably just want me to be successful, be happy, as they do for each other. Today, I make this promise to do so much more for them, to love them and show it through as many ways as possible.

Today, I promise to be the best son and brother I can be.

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