I am grateful for so very much, but as I consider what I am most grateful for this year, I’d have to say it is LUCK. Not dumb luck—well maybe sometimes—but luck just the same. What is the Seneca quote? “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” But even the ability to prepare requires a good amount of luck.

I am so lucky to have been born in this time and place, where despite the challenges and negativity and evil in the world, I can celebrate a life trajectory that has brought me to where I am today: A largely happy life of good family, friends, and health—physical and mental. Yes, luck has everything to do with it. Some call it being blessed, but I don’t like that term. I don’t think God plays favorites. How petty a god would she be if she did? No, it is definitely luck.

I was lucky to have been born in a loving family. Sure, we were poor, but others were more so. And as my wife Laura says, we have so many great stories. We aren’t the perfect family, as some would believe, but we mostly enjoy each other’s company. A lot. And we laugh and laugh. Laura says that her success is due to having a mother who adored her. I believe that. Our parents love us like nobody’s business, and that has made all the difference. Thank you, Mom and Dad! And thank you Laura, Socorro, Elsa, Ricardo, Martin, Beatriz, Gabriel, and Abel. I love you and hope you don’t mind seeing parts of you in my writing.

I was lucky to have met Laura when I did. I sometimes tell her that if we had met earlier, there may not have been an “us.” Neither of us would have been ready. When we met, we each already knew that we, individually, are responsible for our own happiness. I thank Laura often, not for making me happy, but for making me happier. When we first got together, I told her I might need my space. Living alone for so many years will do that. But fifteen years in, that’s never happened. Being together with my wife is the best part of my life. Thank you, Love.

I was lucky that Laura and I met, fell in love, and got married after so many others did the hard work and heavy lifting to make it possible. Sure, the LGBTQ community, and especially the QPOC community, still have many challenges. And there are some places, whole countries, that are not safe to visit. That may always be the case. Our recent civil rights tour of the South and current national politics convince me that people don’t change all that much, that the inclination toward evil is alive and dangerous. But there is also hope and the possibility of change in the power of one-on-one interactions, in making our own friends feel uncomfortable with their privilege. Because change comes when the most privileged acknowledge the isms that have preserved our status—whether racism, sexism, classism, even just differentism. Yes, I say “our,” because I have benefited from institutions built on those isms—so many of us have. It makes us all the more responsible for making a difference, for doing whatever we can to make a world that is not so dependent on luck.