Finding Thankfulness: I Love This Bar

We all know that our work greatly impacts our lives. The full-time employee and the stay-at-home mom both have a ton of things to do, but the way they spend their days is very different. A computer programmer and a salesperson may work at the same place, but that’s about as far as the similarities in their days go.

But it isn’t just what YOU do for a living that impacts your life. A military spouse could certainly tell you that, as could a police officer’s child or a football player’s parent. What the people you love do for a living can change the course of your own daily experiences and your perceptions of the world.

That’s why I’m so thankful that my parents chose to own and operate a pub.

Ok, here’s where those who know me get to grin and say “of course the girl who talks about ‘shot fairies’ would go there.” It’s true, I won’t deny it. I love having my own version of Cheers, where everybody knows my name. I’ve never pretended to be a teetotaler, and there are many workweeks I can’t wait to end with a few (or more) drinks and an overdose of beer-soaked laughter.

But that’s not what I mean here. I’m not just thankful for my parents’ vocation because it means I have a safe and homey place to get my drink on. It is so much bigger than that.

1. I am grateful for what it taught me about determination and beating the odds.

We weren’t poor, but my family struggled during my childhood. My parents scrabbled to keep the lights on sometimes when I was a kid. We were not the family you’d look at and say “they’ve got the money to buy their own business.” But they did it anyway.

2. I am thankful for the proof their choices gave me that risk-taking can pay off.

Not being a family with gobs of money in the bank meant my father leaving his job in his mid-30’s, taking early retirement, and then putting pretty much every dime they had into their dream. How scary is that – knowing that if you fail, you have lost all you’ve saved for your future?

I’ll be honest, sometimes that is actually hard to swallow. Why? Because it makes me kick myself every day. I am now a few years older than my parents were when they took the leap, and I don’t have children to support. Yet I am still so scared of risk-taking that my own progress is much slower. Still, if you’ll pardon the expression, I’m grateful to have a real-life example of how “having the balls to go for it” can pay off.

3. I love that marching to the beat of your own drummer is not just accepted, but expected in my family.

I know so many people whose parents pushed them to go the safe, secure road rather than the overgrown path, and to stay on it no matter how miserable and monotonous they found the journey. The house, the cars, the pensions, the 2.5 kids, and the week or two of vacation a year? THAT’s what you live for – not your silly dream of actually being happy at your work itself. When my role at my job involved more student advising than the system stuff I do now, some of my encounters brought me almost to tears. I’d see students struggling with science and math courses and hating every minute of it, but refusing to explore other options because their doctor daddy expected them to follow in his footsteps. That theater degree they REALLY wanted was a huge waste of time.

Not my family. My parents had day jobs and bosses and schedules over which they had no control when I was growing up. They didn’t like the life, and wanted something more. So they went for it, even if others called it crazy.

4. I am thankful that their experiences also taught me that dreams are grueling work.

Ditching the “workin’ for the man” lifestyle did not mean my parents have spent the last 20-plus years living the high life, doing what they wanted when they wanted. Sure, owning your own business means no one tells you what to wear to work or when to get there. Watching their struggles and successes, their hard times and tough decisions over the years, I have seen first-hand what being your own boss means.

I want to transition from being a worker-bee to a full-time writer. But because of my family, I do not chase that dream wearing rose-colored glasses. I know that it could very well make my workdays even harder. Anyone who thinks otherwise about their passion really should stick with the day job. But I’ve also learned that working hard at what you love is more rewarding than putting all your time into what you tolerate.

5. I am thankful for a safe haven.

Yes, to me, a pub where sometimes people get drunk and do stupid things is exactly that. I have lived my whole adult life with my own version of “Cheers.” I can walk in alone if I want to and know I will always find someone to sit with for a beer and some conversation. During my separation and divorce, when my house seemed cold and lonely and I was overwhelmed with financial worries and completely overhauling my life, I could go there anytime to find friendly reminders that I really wasn’t “all by myself.”  In better times, it is the place I can go when I want to have fun – there’s no need to make detailed plans or get dressed up. I can just come as I am, and go when I please.

6. I am grateful for two decades of deep-down belly laughs over the kinds of antics and stories that only happen in a little local pub.

7. I  am thankful for the people I never would have met otherwise.

Many of my close and dear friends I only know because they were regulars in the bar or people who work there. I cannot imagine my life without them.

8. I have said this before, but I’ll say it again. I am thankful for the stories. So many characters and plot ideas have come from people I’ve met, conversations I’ve had, and things that have happened in the bar.

9. I am thankful for the football games, the anniversary and birthday parties, the holiday celebrations, the Halloweens, and the random fun nights that have happened there already, and for the many more yet to come.

10. I am thankful for the way their bar has impacted my relationship with my parents. When I was in my early 20s, so many of my friends kept their “going out” exploits from their parents. Not me. Much of the time, I was in their bar, and if not, I wasn’t afraid to talk about my silly adventures. Going out and drinking a few was never some taboo in my family, so unlike some “kids” I never really glamorized it or made it out to be more than it was. I also knew early on how to be safe about it.

That’s so much to be grateful for, simply because people I love went for their dream rather than settle for the safe and secure.


How about you? Has a career choice of a loved one impacted your life in a positive way? Do you have a “home away from home” place of your own – somewhere you know you can always go to unwind and be among friends?

I hope you’ve enjoyed November’s “Finding Thankfulness.”

Next week, we kick off December’s Tuesday theme, “Home for the Holidays.” Since I celebrate Christmas, most of the memoirs I share will center around that day. But the humor that comes with families and togetherness and celebration is universal, so I think there will be something for all.

About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Family, Finding Thankfulness, Hawley's Pub, Memoirs, Slices O' Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Finding Thankfulness: I Love This Bar

  1. You’re fortunate to have such a wonderful gathering place for family and friends–and even more fortunate to have the family and friends that you do. I never thought about a bar as a safe haven, but what a great example of things to be grateful for.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I don’t know of any other bar that feels like that too me either Diana. I like checking out new places now and then, but always return to my “home away from home” before the night’s out!

  2. Awesome 🙂 Looks like you have some fun!!!

  3. Great post, Pam. I let my father bully me into staying at a “prestigious” school I hated instead of transferring to a less prestigious one where I could have been better grounded and developed a supportive network that might have helped me carerr-wise.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Makes me so thankful I was given lots of leeway to make my own way (and my own mistakes too, of course!). I am glad that you seem to have definitely developed that supportive network now, David!

  4. tsonoda148 says:

    Loved this post. It’s always fun to have a peek into my favorite blog friends’ lives. Yours looks pretty amazing. Thank you for sharing with us!

  5. I’m grateful for those belly laughs, too. They are priceless! 🙂

  6. I’m happy you have that safe haven and wonderful family and friends. We all need that. My late husband was an executive chef and owned his own restaurant…his parents began the business, then he branched off. I, like you, enjoyed walking in there alone and knowing most of the customers and all the staff. I’d pop in the kitchen and say hello, then he’d fix me some dinner and find the time to sit with me a few minutes. But I never felt alone and met some celebrities, too. So, I know how you feel…it’s comfortable and fun and can lift your mood like nothing else!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Oh wow – another common thread in our lives, Marcia! My dad’s first bar was actually a bar/restaurant, and my ex-husband was the chef for several years! My family sold out of that business and opened a true “neighborhood pub” in 2001. I used to love going for dinner after work (and it showed, too, because nothing on that menu was low-cal lol!).

  7. Lafemmeroar says:

    Love this post 🙂 My safe haven really is my noodle …

    You honor your family in such wonderful ways 🙂

  8. Jess Witkins says:

    This may be one of my favorite posts ever written by you. It’s beautiful, and if you ask me, quite the essence of your writing voice. It’s funny, heartfelt, and honest. Can’t wait to one day do a shot with you at Hawley’s!

    From one working class family girl to another! Or, if you like your toasts a little more crass, here’s the one my girlfriend and I use: Cheers and Pap Smears! 😀

  9. akamonsoon says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your parent’s bar! I’ve heard you talk so much about this place through the past couple of years that I feel like I’ve been there. 🙂 so hope to make it out one of these days and have a beer (or three) and some visits with the ‘Shot Fairy’ with you!

    There’s not a place out in AZ that I frequent but back in Boston there was this little restored fire house called Union St. that my friends used to all meet at on Thursday nights. We arrived to work on many a Friday with a hangover. We wrote our names in chalk on the brick walls and I can’t help but wonder if it is still there.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      It would so neat if you could go back one day and see if your names are still there! And for me, even cooler if you did make it out here for a night at Hawleys – you would love the shot fairies and I know they’d love you : )!

  10. Aurora, HSP says:

    Pam, this is gorgeous… the way you celebrate life, difference and family all in one post! Thanks for the read into your inner world. Loving every minute of it.

  11. Pingback: Wednesday’s Winter Mash Up « Jess Witkins' Happiness Project

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