Thursday, December 29, 2016

12:34 December 29 - Happy 40th, Matt!

Window seat #durm #thefed #datenight

Dear Matt,

Today, you turn 40 years old. We met when we were both 18 years old, so today marks your 22nd birthday we’ve celebrated together. I have spent more than half your life (our lives) loving you. We are also nearing the end of a calendar year during which we have written about our daily gratitudes. Today, and every day, I am thankful for you.

I’m grateful for your help. Most recently, we hosted my family for Christmas, and you were up early every day to make breakfast. You washed and folded countless loads of laundry, making sure everyone had clean linens and our kids' new Christmas clothes were ready to wear on our next road trip. While I have come to expect and rely on you to be right beside me, helping with whatever we’ve got going on, I never take it for granted; I appreciate it tremendously.

I’m thankful for your authenticity. Our first decade together felt like smooth sailing. We finished college, got married, found jobs we enjoyed, moved to Durham, got me through law school, and welcomed our precious first child. All along the way, we made a multitude of life-long friends together. Our second, most recent decade has felt much more difficult. While we added two more beautiful, healthy kiddos and managed for me to stay home with them full time, these years have also been punctuated by the loss of your father, my cancer diagnosis, and the financial stress that accompanies being a one-income family while also enduring a major medical crisis. Through it all, you’ve been steady and reassuring. But you’ve also been very honest about your own sadness, anger, and fear. I suppose that’s something we’ll spend the rest of our lives figuring out: how to navigate life’s sorrows--which we can’t help but experience individually and differently--together.

I appreciate your kindness. I often joke that you are just naturally a nicer person than me, but I never want to make light of how truly gracious you are with people--how you put them at ease. How you see and bring out the best in them. I’ve seen this most poignantly in your care and concern for struggling students over your nearly 17 years teaching. No matter how life or society has marginalized these kids, you have done your best to consistently reach out and connect.

Closer to home, I’m grateful for how you honor each of our kids individually: talking books and sports with Tobin, singing and dancing with Evan, and swapping endless knock-knock jokes with Lauren. My favorite view is from the kitchen sink, where I watch you play in the backyard with the kids. Lately, that’s been football with the boys. You come in laughing, giving me a detailed rundown of each boy’s highlights: how Tobin threw a pass with perfect touch and how Evan managed a spectacular catch while being well-defended by his big brother.

Sports has been part of our lives from the beginning. In the fall of our freshman year in college, we watched every game of the World Series together, when my Atlanta Braves won. A few months later, you would initiate me into the fandom of Kentucky basketball, as we followed their championship run together. These days, we still watch SportsCenter most mornings, with our coffee, in the quiet before the kids awaken and make their mad dash out the door for school. I’m thankful that we’ve passed on our love of sports to our kids--that we’re cheering them on from the stands and sidelines at their own games now.

I am thankful for your love. More than anyone in my life--family or friend--you have made me feel most at ease in my own skin. You have made me feel adored, even when I have felt least lovable. That has been especially true in recent years when I’ve felt quite broken in body and spirit. You’ve always had tremendous faith in me--whether starting a new job, navigating motherhood, or facing illness. Your confidence in me has been my lifeline.

In a very blessed life, I count as my greatest gift that we met each other when we did and that we’ve spent so much time together already. I’m grateful for the decades behind us and hopeful for the ones to come. Thank you for being you. Happy birthday!

Love,
Allison

44 comments:

Unknown said...

First of all, that was a great post Allison. Secondly, happy 40th birthday to Matt! I am also grateful to call Matt my friend.
Although we don't see each other very often since I moved away I still feel very close to Matt. Perhaps it is just Facebook, or maybe this blog, but I feel it must be much more than that. There is something about Matt's demeanor that can instantly calm you down and make you feel at peace. Matt is such a warm and welcoming soul. I remember the first time we saw each other after moving away and we shook hands and hugged. It was an unexpected hug in that it was tight. I never said anything, but I was happy. It told me that you were truly glad to see me. That's the type of person I would like to be. Matt makes the people in front of him his priority. It's truly amazing. On a much more superficial, yet still important note to me, I am grateful to Matt for helping me pass the English portion of the Massachusetts educator license test. Matt is a patient tutor for sure! My final thought about Matt is another memory. All I'll say is that for anyone who was around the fire that chilly night in Maine when Matt spoke about his dad probably thinks of that night as one they'll also never forget. Matt, you are wise beyond your years and in the next decade of your life will most certainly be impacting thousands of more people in ways you can't imagine. Happy Birthday, once more, to an amazing, compassionate, witty, and caring friend.

Eric C.

DMW said...

I, too, am thankful for Matt in my own ways. I can honestly say that I feel better about the world knowing that you are in it, and out there affecting an array of lives each day. I admire you as a teacher of both your children, and of your students. The ripples of change you send out into the world in those groups alone are making the world a better place. We have been friends since Allison began law school, and don't see each other terribly often. But each time we find ourselves talking (often about music!) I enjoy the conversation.

I am also grateful to you for being an outstanding partner to my dear friend Allison. It brings me peace to know that the two of you have each other for the times that life is unkind and harsh.

Finally, I'd like to thank you for introducing me to The Avett Brothers. All those years ago, you put a video of T and E dancing to Kick Drum Heart on FB and changed my world. I always give you credit for that introduction!

Happy 40th Birthday Matt! Sending lots of laughter and love your way today.

Danielle

Janet Stephens said...

I am thankful for Matt because he is such a good husband to Allison and a good dad to his three children. It makes my heart happy to see posts and pictures of your family at a time when there is much to cause sadness in our world. I love the 12:34 idea and am going to begin doing that as well. Love you and Allison! -Janet Badon Stephens

The Torg said...

Allison, it was great to get to "visit" so much that I love about Matt while reading your post.

I am thankful to have met Matt when we taught together at Vance High School in Charlotte. After working in a kind of teaching paradise in Indiana where there were a lot of financial resources and relatively small class sizes, Vance was one of the most stressful jobs I ever had. No matter what stressful or seemingly crazy thing happened during the school day, Matt brought a "chill" and positive attitude to the situation. I appreciate having a friend who is such a great storyteller, well read and thoughtful. Matt and Allison, you are both inspirations when it comes to being great parents and working toward self awareness about what it is to live a life. Happy Birthday Matt!

Daniel L. said...

Hmmm...Why am I thankful for Matt Smith? Well, for starters, he was the first friend I met when I visited Queens. We both endured a lecture from Stewart's roommate on how to behave during a scholarship interview, punctuated by the constant spitting of dip. We had many a fine debate over which Seal album is the best (I still insist it is Seal, though I believe Matt might be partial to Seal). I once heard him go on an extended riff at a table in Morrison Dining Hall pondering the possible contents of a "dumpling."

Anywhoozle, for many good times and good music, I'm very happy to have Matt in my life, and the only bad part is I don't see him that often. Happy Birthday!

Love,
Dan

Elizabeth said...

Matt,
I am thankful for you for many reasons (a lot of which have been listed in the previous comments), but I am most thankful that you are thankful. Like Eric, that chilly night around the fire in Maine is one I will never forget. Your ability to find the things to be thankful for during such trying times is something that I think about frequently. Because of that night and the sharing of his 12:34 alarm, I find gratitude in each day. I have shared this concept with many family members, friends, and students. This project and your daily gratitude have reached more people than you realize. Today, and every day, I am thankful for the person and friend that you are. You make navigating the fog (literally and figuratively) easier for me, even on days and moments when you are not aware you are doing it. Happy 40th Birthday to one of the best!

Love,
Elizabeth

Tobin said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dad. I'm so thankful for so many things you do and things about you: playing football outside with me (and Evan), talking sports, books,and school projects, how you Help me feel better about things I'm uneasy about, and how I can ask for help on any tough math problem, Lego set,and even a hard level on Lego Marvel Super Heroes. A big thanks you my favorite dad in the whole world. : )

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful for Matt because I got to watch Allison fall for him in college. There are few more wonderful feelings that falling for "the one." To watch it happen for such a sweet soul as Allison, to sit by her side and giggle like the schoolgirls we were, remains a gift for the heart.
Matt was always a loyal friend, a truly stand up guy. He's so funny and talented. A treasure.
I know what it's like to battle anger and fear in the face of the cards that life deals us as we grow older. Of course I have no brilliant answers, but I do believe that Matt and Allison together are a beautiful beacon on how to get "it" mostly, magically right.
With thanks,
Brooke

Gabe N. said...

Simple. He's an uncommonly nice guy, and I enjoy reading his tweets. Happy birthday, Matt.

Mike D said...

I am grateful for Matt’s support and kindness as both a friend and a colleague. I knew few people in North Carolina when I moved here in 2003. Matt reached out to me one day during lunch duty, and invited to join him and his colleagues for a happy hour. We quickly became good friends and he introduced me to new people, disc golf, and a lot of new music. Matt and Allison also had me over dinner many nights, which I especially appreciated as canned soup was my usual meal during that time.

While I only taught with Matt for a short period of time, he had a great influence on me as an educator. When I took over a class mid-year, it was a difficult situation and Matt’s support was invaluable. He was always full of encouragement, and even spoke with mutual students I was struggling with in class. I remember one student telling me “if I was friends with Mr. Smith then I must be okay.” It is a rare teacher that connects as well with the highest achieving students, as well as the ones who have the hardest time in school. He taught me how important those personal connections are with each student, and that at the end of the day they are all kids who want to feel cared for and respected.

Happy Birthday, Matt!
Mike D

MikaJ said...

Why am I thankful for Matt Smith?! Well there are the basic ways, that include his creation of doodles and Venn diagrams during meetings and his willingness to share music files and attend concerts from time to time. And Matt's dedication to the public schools of Durham.
There are the the less basic ways that include helping beginning teachers navigate a profession that is (at times) not easy to navigate. Helping me, specifically, learn to say "no" to things. Being honest with me about my exclamation point use (!!!) and supporting me through my National Boards application. And his patience with students and colleagues and being willing to problem solve and strategize solutions when we share challenging students.
And then there are the not-at-all basic ways that include supporting me during challenging and scary life changes. Being supportive and an excellent listener. Supporting me in a way that I am still not really sure how to express in words or verbalize a proper thank you.





Lindsey said...

happy birthday Matt! I am thankful to have met you during my Charlotte years. You are such a nice, caring and sincere friend. Even though I don't see you often it is great 'seeing' you and Allison on facebook. You have a beautiful family. I hope you have the best birthday ever!
Lots of love from Philadelphia,
Lindsey (parker)

Sunshine said...

As others have said, it's been wonderful to take this calm tour of Mattness. I ended up at Queens in part because of you. At that scholarship interview weekend, something felt like home. I'd been on other college tours and everyone had felt so alien, but at Queens, somehow we all seemed to be an instant group--it seemed Obvious that we'd soon be back and sharing the experience of introducing our favorite movies to each other. It's weird to think that it Wasn't a foregone conclusion that we'd all end up there that fall. And for someone who was such a self-centered hurricane as I was at that age (I'm down to a self-centered tropical storm by now), I was so impressed and moved by your calmness and kindness and it's something that is still conjured up instantly at the first thought. Thinking about you both makes me so happy and lucky to know you. I hope that sometimes you guys can feel my respect and love and admiration from afar.

Susan Gebren said...

I am thankful that all this students have such a great teacher with Matt. Education needs fun, knowledgeable, dedicated teachers. I am thankful dear Matt has come into our family with his love and commitment to Alison. And, as others have said, I'm glad Matt is such a fun Dad to those 3 little individuals!
Susie

Katie Keller Dugan said...

I am grateful to have known Matt during my very first years of teaching. I learned so much from him about how to connect with students who were often very hard to reach. I am also grateful for Matt's friendship during our fun, childless years in Charlotte. I have incredible memories from that time period of my life, and Matt is a big part of that. And I am grateful that through Matt I met his amazing wife Allison. Though we don't talk much these days, I am thankful for social media that has allowed me to watch his beautiful family grow. Happy Birthday to a fantastic friend, teacher, husband, and father!
Love, Katie

Vivian Stephens said...

Matt,

Happy 40th birthday to my beloved nephew!! I struggle to find words that express all the love that has accumulated over the years in my heart for you. So I will recall a few moments in time:

-your birth and toddler years...even then you were gentle, quiet and loving. I was so proud and would just watch your parents love on you! (Oh, and you were pinch the cheeks cute of course.)

-boyhood...you became your little cousin Scott's idol. I was so grateful for the role you played in his young life and admired how patient you were to sit and play with him even as you approached the years when you had long outgrown pacman and GI joes.

-adulthood...you have always had a special place in my heart, as has your dad. I wish i had the words, but I trust you know in your heart why. It has been my joy to see you grow as a boy, son, husband, and dad. Well done, as your dad would have said. He was so proud of who you were and I learned from watching him with you. I think it has made me a better parent. Now your children are learning from you and they are awesome!

I love you Matt and celebrate you today!!

Viv

Allison C said...

Happy Birthday to you, Matt!
I am thankful and grateful for having Matt in my life. I often think about how special the time was when Matt and I taught across the hall from each other. He made me smile between classes as he bisected the hallway, and again during lunch when he showed me the latest funny thing he found on the internet. I am grateful for the moment long ago when Matt walked into my classrom while I listened to music, and with both surprise and a little admiration said, "I didn't see you as a White Snake fan." I am also grateful that I could be there for Matt, even for just a moment, when he found out his dad was sick. It was good to be able to repay his kindness and be calm for him because in reading all these posts, I can tell he is often a calming presence for all of us. Matt was one of the people I had the hardest time telling we were leaving when we left North Carolina because I knew I would miss our daily interactions, and I still do. But what I am most grateful for is that when I see Matt, even when it has been a while, he smiles so wide and gives the best hug, and we can talk like no time has passed at all.

I am also grateful that Matt, through his posts with Allison, has made me aware of being grafeful. It is so easy to forget to be grateful, and Matt and Allison help me to remember. My son told me the other day that 12:34 is his favorite time of day because he finds the number pattern satisfying. I told him in response about my friends who also find it special and why, and together we thought of things we are grateful for.

I am so glad that I continue to be in touch with Matt and his family and I love that we get to reconnect on a regular basis. I can't wait to see you again this summer! If I were there I would give you a Matt-sized chocolate bar.
Love, Allison (Collins)

Angela Nofsinger said...

Happy Birthday, Matt! I am grateful for the 10 years I had with you as my colleague and friend while at Riverside. Your humor and ability to "not sweat the small stuff" make you an invaluable member of the faculty. And your technological savvy with smart phone operating systems remains untouched. In fact, I just let my phone choose whatever operating system it wants (that's how that works, right?). I love that you and Allison are practicing mindfulness and deliberately thinking about what you're grateful for, and I love keeping up with your family online. I hope you have the most wonderful day!

Angie

Emma Refvem said...

Matt!!! I am thankful for the grace and humor with which you approach teaching at Riverside. It has grounded me and allowed me to relax and remember my own humanity in a job that can tend to make me forget. I know that a conversation with you will calm me (even if the topic is enraging), because I know I'm not alone in thinking things are ridiculous. I'm actually inspired by how well crafted your march madness emails are- I have truly learned the benefit of a good in-text link. Your consumption of media also inspires me... just the right touch of surrealism & wit. You're awesome and I am so glad we work together!!!!! xoxo Emma

Kari P said...

Welcome to your 40s!! I feel so very blessed to know you. Your sincerity, constancy, and vibrancy come through in every photo on FB and brighten my days 1,600 miles away. May you have a wonderful birthday and a fantastic decade! Can't wait to toast together in July!
xoxo
Kari

The Carters said...

Mr. Smith:

We were a little leery when you and your family moved into the neighborhood. You can’t blame us for wondering if you were stalking us after we learned you were moving from Homeplace to Imperial like we did a few years prior.

But alas, we had nothing to worry. We are thankful for you (and your wife and children) being great neighbors and more importantly friends. It is not often that you find a neighbor willing to show up with a sand bucket and piece of cardboard box early in the morning to help get a snake out of the hallway, or come into our yard and check to see if we have poison ivy or a blackberry bush.

Mr. Carter thanks you for the long, idle talk about sports while sitting in your front yard drinking a beer. Mrs. Carter thanks you for coming over when Mr. Carter is gone and the alarm is going off in the house or a snake is curled up under a table in the dining room. (Hence why you are lovingly referred to as her “second husband.”)

Here’s to many more years of fun on Imperial. Happy 40th birthday!

The Carters

Sewconsult said...

Happy Birthday, Matt. It's hard to believe that the 40 years have passed so quickly since the day you joined the Smith family. As your grandmother reminded me one day, you are the 5th generation of the first son of the previous first born of the Smith family tree. You have carried that banner with leadership, kindness, and love. There is one very special moment with you that I will carry in my heart & memory forever. After a very unpleasant exchange during a holiday gathering, you came to me & gave me a very warm, sincere hug, as we were leaving. That hug meant more to me than you realized.

I wish for you a wonderful birthday with family & friends. Wishing 2017 will be filled with joy, love, and blessing for you and Allison.
I am proud to be you aunt, "the crazy one"!
Beckie

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that you are part of our family.
I am thankful for the way you love my niece and your children. You have always made me feel very welcome when I visit.
I love watching you with each of your children showing patience, guidance and love.
I enjoy hearing you talk about your role as an educator and how you want to reach all of your students and help them succeed.
There are many things I could say I am grateful for about you, but the one thing I am most grateful for is your support of Allison during her illness.
For me being so far away it was a great comfort to know that you were her support during that difficult time.
You are a kind man Matt Smith. I wish you nothing but the best in the coming year. I love you.-Louise

Ting Lan said...

I am grateful for Matt for the calm, serenity, kindness and fun which he always bring with him. Through college, he was always one of the few people I knew I could always get good sound advice from. He's truly an all-around great guy, and I am grateful to call him my friends.

Ting

Anonymous said...

Happy 40th, Matt! I'm thankful for all the memories we share. I'm grateful for the fact that even though we don't see each other or talk often, when we do, it feels like we were hanging out just yesterday. You're the kind of guy who will chase down a runaway baby carriage across the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Nuff said. Wishing you love in light in 2017!
Amy K

Anonymous said...

Welcome to your 40s, Matt! May they be the best decade of your life so far.

I am thankful most for the insight you've shared over the years about how to love well through excellent teaching, not only in your classroom but also in how you raise your kids to be unabashedly themselves and to consider others' needs. You provide a balance of humor and healthy boundaries in both contexts.

I thank you also for how you and Allison give us glimpses into your life together. Both the work and the enjoyment of your marriage are seen in the bond you and Allison share, and I love hearing about y'all's adventures, wisdom, and victories over the obstacles you've faced. Your example of a love that encompasses not only the romantic side of being a couple but also (and perhaps more importantly?) the friendship aspect, has inspired me to incorporate it into my own filter for relationships.

Here's to many more years of your enjoying being you, continuing to build a life you love and are proud of, and inspiring others with the truth that they too can build such a legacy!

~ Andrea H.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Matt! Today I toast your love of literature: you brought it to your classes at Queens, and now you pass it on to your students. My heart is full.
Dr. S

Kevin Borders said...

Dear Matt: I've been thankful for you since 1985, when I met your dad at seminary and soon after met you and the rest of the family. You and Sarah and your parents welcomed me into your home and are the major reason I survived and thrived throughout those grad school years and my launching as a young adult.

I've admired your integrity and compassion for years; how fortunate your children and Allison are to be familyt with you, and how fortunate your current and former students are to have you as a teacher!

Kevin Borders

Andrew Lupien said...

Happy Birthday Matt!

I am grateful for the example that you set for all of us. Early on in our friendship it was the deliberate and logical way that you approached teaching at Riverside. You truly seemed to care about your students, even when they didn't care so much for school. You were a dedicated teacher, coach and member of the faculty. You seemed so much wiser and more mature than the other people in our crew.

Since we've moved back to Maine we see you only once a year, at best, but those times are amazing. It is abundantly clear that you care about each of us, and all of our offspring. You take time to sit and talk with each of us and truly listen to what is going on in our lives. Your kind and patient personality shines through, even when we are trying to round up a dozen or so children for dinner. I missed you and your family so much in Wisconsin last summer...and can't wait to see you all in 2017!

Thank you for being a terrific human being and caring so much about all of us!

Bethany Walsh said...

Happy Birthday Matt...I grateful for the joy you bring to life. You make me feel welcome and loved when I am at your home or other family events ! I am grateful for how much you adore and love dear Allison ! When around you two the love is palpable! No more than when you fought along side her when she battled cancer. You were her protecter !
I am grateful for how you love your children...each as individuals..encouraging them in all they do. You play with them, cherish them and listen ! You have introduced them to your love of music...so they love it too ! Your joy watching sports with your family and your knowledge of it all.
You have impacted all our lives in a positive way !
I love you dear Matt !

Mira said...

Matt! I'm not sure I can fully explain just how grateful I am for you. You have been a wonderful coworker, driving me to be a better teacher each day. You are an even better friend. You are there to encourage me in not only school related issues, but in my personal life. You allow me to come in your classroom and laugh, cry, and rage. And you're always supportive of these intense emotions, encouraging me to advocate for myself. I have also enjoyed being embraced by and getting to know your wonderful family. I am so honored to be your friend. Congrats on 40!

Stewart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stewart said...

(take 2, bad typo in the first one)

Matt is 40 today and the odd thing about that is he looks exactly the same as he did when I met him in 1995. He has great taste in good music and interesting taste in bad music (thanks for turning me on to Valient Thorr). As if that were not enough, Matt is also a public school teacher in North Carolina and that is crucial work. His love for the kids is obvious when you talk to him and he manages to have a genuinely positive attitude in the face of a challenging political environment. You are fighting the good fight and doing it well. Thanks for all you do.

Stewart

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Matt! I have so many fond memories of our times at Queens, most notably the many meals we shared together in the dining hall, the hours upon hours we spent in RA training, and the fun times in the residence halls joking around or watching tv with Allison and other friends. I will never forget how you always called me "Court-Dawg" or how relaxed I felt when you were around. One sweet memory I have of you is the moment you saw Allison as she was about to walk down the aisle, on your wedding day. You were beaming! Matt, you are a special person who is not only smart but so caring and kind. I hope God blesses you with another 40 years so that you can continue to make a difference in the world.

Love,
Courtney Neil

Jon Haenning said...

Happy Birthday Brother Man!!
I am grateful from the day our grandmothers met and introduced us to you telling me that you ran a half marathon for fun without being chased - crazy to me! Great time from Wiffle Ball in the back yards, Silver Dollar City, Cubs v. Reds Games and of course our championship run in (circa) '88. I am grateful for you and your family opening your hearts to me all those years ago and always being there. You were always there for my family (cutting the grass for the warden and moving mom out of the apartment) when I left for the Navy and I will never forget that.
Im especially grateful for our long lasting friendship and brotha-hood. Welcome to the 40's!

Fireworks on Pomme de Terre Lake
Grandma's Pancakes
Home Made Ice cream
primitive baseball
Baseball from Crescent Hill to Central H.S.
Trip to Holiday World when the Van broke down
Little Drummer Boy with Ms. Kentucky!
Virginia Beach
Drums in the old house
Water Guns and water balloon attacks from Sarah
Dollar movies at Dutchman's Lane
Many, many more....

Love ya Man,

Jon

Andrew Ekblad said...

For me, the most remarkable thing about you is how unremarkable you can seem. Good company. Easy to be around. Good taste. Caring, engaged husband and father. These are genuine, accurate and substantial compliments. At the same time, I could genuinely and accurately give them to a few dozen good men I know. Because there’s not as much flash (you’ve got a good sense of humour Matt, that’s just not my angle here) it’s easy to overlook qualities which are less obvious and at the same time arguably more rare and powerful that thrive within you.

I see you as a model of integrity, consideration, and empathy. You connect dots between people and experiences that few people I know do. Whether you're talking about complicated race dynamics at the inner city school where you grew up in Louisville or asking me about the music I have been listening to, I never doubt that I am fortunate to be able to spend time with someone with such an unpretentious and spacious capacity for welcoming others. To be around you is to have what is unique about me sought and found by someone else. Your presence is comforting and validating.

Whatever little of it I get these days Matt, I am always grateful to share time with you.

Wishing you well very warmly,

Andrew

Unknown said...

Matt –

What a pleasant thing to do – to reflect on someone I admire and whose company I enjoy tremendously, if infrequently. I’m grateful to have the chance to wish you well on your 40th birthday. I am grateful that you are:
• A March Madness bracket administrator extraordinaire
• A man of dry humor, thoughtful insights, well-read commentary, and excellent conversation
• In possession of an admirable blend of quiet confidence, comfort in your own skin, and humility
• Genuinely curious – about yourself, others, the world around you.
• Someone I look up to – as a spouse, parent, and all-around good person
• Generous and open in sharing your thoughts, struggles, and reflections, thereby enriching the lives of your friends and family – including through modeling gratitude in action. (Our family now has a daily ritual of reporting something we are grateful for while eating dinner together. Aside from the times it devolves into a fight over who gets to be grateful first (!), it is a respected ritual in our house).
• Willing to share a week each year with a motley crew of far-flung friends

Cheers to you my friend, wishing you many more rich, wonderful years.

-Noella

Ashley Shempert said...

Matt,

Why am I thankful........let me count the ways. You were a calming voice to our loud teenage brother. I was protective of my sister and who she was dating and when she brought you home I was immediately at ease. My 21st birthday and the patience you exhibited. Letting me visit and stay as long and whenever I wanted or needed to come to have my sister time. Letting me crash your homecoming with your brand new baby and letting me stay and experience it all with y'all.

Those were very early memories and I love every memory I have with you. You have a calm about you that everyone has talked about and it's so true. You are my sister's rock and you were made for her. I love you for that and I am thankful for you. You continue to amaze me with your parenting of those sweet children and it challenges me in my new journey into being a parent.

Stay true to you and know that I am so thankful and wish I was better with words. 40 years of being a pretty fabulous person, here is to 40 more! Love you Matt!

Lots of love, Ashley

Caleb Dickinson said...

Matt,

I am thankful for you. You are a kind, intelligent, selfless man. You have taught me how to care about other people more than I care about myself. You have shown me how to be powerful. You have always given me the longest, warmest, truest hugs. You make me feel like I'm better than I really am. You make me miss North Carolina.

40 years. I've known you for about 12 or 13 of them. It's been quite a tough stretch for you and your family this past decade. I'm really looking forward to a new decade of happiness and growth and success. Your three wonderful children and your perfect wife are certainly your greatest gift to the world and the world's greatest gift to you. I can't wait to be with you all again. Thank you for being such a great friend to me for so many years.

I love you.

Caleb

karen mckaig said...

Why I am so thankful for Matt Smith...by Karen McKaig

i met you when you were a first year teacher, full of ideals, ideas, and questions... All of which were thinks in needed reminding of... Thank you.
I am grateful for the smiles you give me every first day of school as I think back to YOUR first day of teaching when you sat in the student desks joining your pupils looking around wondering and talking about the new teacher.... Thank you that always makes me smile. I am also so grateful for your talent for teaching thinking, especially writing. And I say this as a recipient of many sessions where you patiently worked with me, editing letters of recommendation I wrote. I can still hear you in my head when I am trying to editi my redundant tendencies. "Well Karen, 'unique' means 'one of a kind' so do you think you need 'extremely' in front of it?" Thank you for all the people and me, who have benefited from your teaching talents.
And lastly, I am grateful for the enjoyment of college basketball we have shared, like our common love for my precious Shane Battier. What, some of you surprised by this? Matt once took great pains to post a picture, raising Battier to a place of respect and honor on a porcelain pedestal above my teacher cubby. OK, maybe less exalted on high, as fixed so near the celiling as to be out of my reach, even while standing on my desk, and maybe less porcelain pedestal, as posted on a toilet seat. Yes, ... He did this, to my beloved!...so thinking over old times,..Am I grateful for Matt Smith, maybe not!!

Just kidding, enemy on the hard courts,
But, Matt-fan and friend for life!
Happy, happy Birthday!!!

katie dickinson said...

Dear Matt,

Happy 40th! Among your many gifts for which I am grateful, most of which have already been eloquently enumerated by others here, I would like to give thanks for your smack talk commentary during our annual fantasy football drafts. I wish I could quote from last year's exchange here, but I don't think Yahoo archives them and my memory is terrible. (I remember that there were Mitch Hedberg quotes... no surprise.) What I do know is that while the clock is ticking down and someone's internet is cutting out and Eric is calling a timeout and Caleb is up to his eyeballs in Excel spreadsheets, I'm eagerly awaiting your next comment (and your last pick) and cackling away to myself. Thanks.

I love you and your lovely, entertaining, lively family, and am grateful that on top of our (nearly) annual group friends trips over the past 7 years, I've also gotten to visit you in your new home twice in the past two years. Through these glimpses into both your "at play" and "at work" modes, I've loved watching the kaleidoscope of grace, humor, generosity, exasperation, and kindness with which you seemlessly and lovingly interact with the world. You are an amazing father, friend, teacher, and overall human being.

So much love, and best wishes for many years to come.

Katie

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Matt! I'm sorry I'm late to the Matt party. I'm incredibly grateful that I met you nearly 22 years ago our first semester at Queens. Though I don't often get the chance to spend time with you and Allison in person, I feel like we can pick-up right where we left off whenever we are together. Most recently, at Chad's wedding, where we shared some good rye and I marveled at your Zen-like parenting.

I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating, friend.
Much love,
Molly

Matt North said...

Matt Smith is AWESOME because he is AWESOME! -Stella North (8years old)

Matt Smith is a genuine friend. -Matt North

Matt Smith is da Bes! -Elliot North (5 years old)

The Smith family with their patriarch Matt Smith, is the best addition to Imperial Drive, a family with kids could ask for. Life got way better once the Smith family arrived. We love you guys! -Holly North

Scott Stephens said...

Matt,

Thanks for filling in as the closest thing to a big brother I could get in the Smith Clan.

Looking back I don't know how you could be so patient hanging out with your cousin who was 7 years younger but you made memories I'll never forget. Going through baseball card collections, playing with AR water guns, chasing after the dog and checking out your GI Joe collection.

You made holidays and summer trips something a kid dreamed about. Thanks for being such a humble, caring and fun role model for me through the years!

-Cousin Scott