Two days ago, we were shooting off firecrackers and celebrating the Fourth of July. Yesterday was the first Saturday of football season. This week is Thanksgiving, and when we blink Christmas will be only a memory. The older one gets, the faster the pages of the calendar seem to turn, but I am thankful that I have seen so many pages turn and on each trip around the sun I receive more and more blessings for which to be thankful. The list is long. I’d best get started.
I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts, memories and dreams with each of you in this space every week. We’ve been meeting like this for a long time now, and I am always thankful when I run into someone who says, “Your column is the first thing I turn to every week.” I’m even thankful for the folks who send me ugly emails about what I write. At least I know they are reading.
I’m thankful for the solitude of early mornings and the opportunity to sit alone with my coffee and my newspaper and my thoughts — be it on the front porch in spring, summer or fall or by the fire in winter. And I am thankful that, whatever the season, I know that God is always with me.
Speaking of which, I am thankful that my parents made Sunday School and church a priority at my house and that, as a child, attendance wasn’t left up to me. I’m thankful for all my Sunday school teachers, from Cradle Roll to MYF. No place is so dear to my childhood as the little brick church on the hill in Porterdale.
I’m thankful for grits and barbecue and all the good Southern food that my doctors tell me I am no longer allowed to eat. I am also thankful for those doctors, who, along with God, have kept me around long past my predicted expiration date.
I am thankful when Sir Henley the Adorable crawls up in my lap with his favorite book, just before bedtime, and says, “Papa, let’s read a story.” I am also thankful when he says, “Papa, let’s read one more — and one more.” And speaking of grandchildren, I am thankful that another one is on the way soon, and so thankful that I am told he will have “Lee” as a middle name, like his father and his father’s father and father’s father’s father. Tradition and knowing where one comes from is an important thing in my book.
And as for tradition, I am ever thankful for Dan Magill, because he, more than anyone, endeavored to keep so many proud University of Georgia traditions alive. I am thankful for Jeff Danzler for carrying the torch Coach Magill passed along, and I am thankful for Vince and Barbara Dooley, the First Family of Georgia Football, and for all they’ve meant to my Alma Mater and to me.
I’m thankful for rain, when we get some.
I’m thankful for the sound a golf ball makes when it drops into the cup — no matter how many strokes it has taken me to get there. That’s why I never take gimmes. I want to hear it 18 times a round because usually that’s my only good shot on a given hole.
I’m thankful for aisle seats and flights that depart on time and for getting back home after a long journey. I am really thankful for getting back home.
I am thankful for those rare occasions when all of our family is in one place at one time. Nobody has been blessed with a better family, and I give God the glory for the people my children have become. And I am thankful for cold feet against my legs under the covers, and for all the years we’ve had together.
I am thankful for Willie and Dolly and Garth and all my radio heroes who have brought me so much joy and pleasure as I’ve traveled so many miles on so many highways. Yes, I’m thankful for the twang.
I have traveled to all 50 states and 50 foreign nations over the past few years, and I am thankful that God saw fit to allow me to be born and live out my life in Georgia, in the United States of America. None of us gets a choice about where we are born, and I don’t know why I am lucky enough to have been raised in Porterdale in the ’50s and ’60s, but it was by the grace of God that I was, and I am thankful for that 365 days a year — not just on Turkey Day. I’ll be thankful 366 days next year, because we get an extra one.
I am thankful for so very much, and hope that you are too. I hope that your Thanksgiving Day will be full of joy and love and that we will all be together again next year, counting an even longer list of blessings.