Community Issues

First Thought on Thanksgiving? Thanks for Second Chances!

Sometimes we forget to give thanks for those second opportunities that allow us to secure what we value most in our lives.


Just like everyone else this time of the year, I'm taking a moment to be thankful for all my blessings. Yet, this year it hit me that so much of what I have to be grateful for stems from getting second chances.

My wife is my soulmate, yet she is also a woman I married after my previous marriage failed. My wonderful and beautiful blended family (below) with my 4 children is a result of the best of both of those second chances.

I love my alma mater Davidson College. Yet I dropped out, ended up working as a clerk in a deli, and it took me 13 years to graduate.

I even had a chance to live, grow, and aid my native Pittsburgh twice, first as a born-and-bred Pittsburgher and then as a Pittsburgh boomerang.

And as a survivor of gun violence (my wife and father are too), I know what it's like to see life hang in the balance, and how precious it is to get a second chance to appreciate and make the most of each day.

Here are some of my thoughts on being thankful for second chances, which I shot outside a beacon of second chances, Pittsburgh Trade Institute (click here to see the amazing work they're doing in a Sparkt story from earlier this year).

The idea of second chances has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. In my Sparkt column last week (click here), I talked about why "cancel culture" is so antithetical to the American belief in redemption, restitution, and renewal, the essence of any Thanksgiving celebration.

This season of reflection and gratitude must include a big acknowledgement that most of us wouldn't be where we are without second chances. Second chances in our families and communities, in our careers, and our personal and collective aspirations. These second chances have allowed us to overcome shortcomings and mistakes that stem as far back as our forefathers and stretch to our last actions before we fall asleep each night.

Life is nothing but the ability to make the most of today's collection of second chances.

The time I got a new car was nice, and I was thankful. Same with the times I got the opportunity to host a television show or speak to audiences on radio broadcasts from Pittsburgh to Chicago to Auckland. But there's nothing quite like being thankful for achieving something despite, or maybe because of , our mistakes, learning from hardships and challenges, and making the most of the ability to see life from new perspectives.

Without second chances, I would have a lot less to be thankful for. How about you?

Lenny McAllister is a Sparkt contributor and political commentator featured on BCN network launching January 6, 2020. He is a former television and radio show host in Pittsburgh.

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