This is the column I most look forward to writing each year, because it is the easiest to write. For the past 15 years, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I have gotten to count my blessings in this forum, which is, in and of itself, a noteworthy blessing. This year is particularly special, because I have been reminded quite dramatically of the privilege of life and of the impact the 800 or so words I share each week seem to have on so many wonderful people. As Snuffy Smith used to say to Loweezy, "time's-a-wastin'!" so let's get started.I am thankful for the first fire of the season, and the warmth it provides -- and when it's on up in the winter and we've had a fire for about 40 straight nights, I am thankful when someone else dumps the ashes.
I'm thankful for the clerk who counts change back the old fashioned way -- starting at the amount of my purchase and working up to the amount of money I handed them. In today's economy, I am thankful for change, period. I'm also very appreciative when someone else makes the morning coffee -- which isn't often -- and I'm thankful for the phantom who arises in the middle of the night to place my morning newspapers squarely in the middle of my driveway.
I'm thankful for rain and for the sunshine that follows. I am thankful for green grass. Especially when my son mows it and I don't have to, and for freshly baled hay -- especially once it is safely in the barn. I'm thankful for flights that are on time and for trips that involve equal numbers of take-offs and landings. And I am especially thankful for the flight attendant who doesn't act like she -- or he -- is doing me a favor by allowing me to board the airplane.
I am thankful that, way back in the 1950s, the state of Georgia had the good sense to buy Jekyll Island and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to camp there virtually every spring for the past three decades. I am thankful for every sunset I've watched over the marshes of Glynn -- gnats, no-seeums and all -- and I am thankful for every night around the campfire and every mile I've ridden on my bicycle -- especially those miles in which I have been joined by my three children and their friends.
I am thankful for the dirty, dingy streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. I am thankful for the craziness of Key West's Duval Street and the quiet calm of my own front porch. I'm thankful for red clay sunrises and clear black starlit nights and for full moons. I am thankful when the song leader calls out a hymn that I know by heart, and I am thankful for the preacher who understands that he is not the star of the show and presents the good news of the Gospel.
I am thankful for pinto beans, fatback and Vidalia onions. I am also thankful for vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh corn off the cob and Mary Anne Gordon's scuppernong jelly. I am thankful that my children still like to travel with me from time to time, even if is because I always pick up the check.
I am thankful that my parents raised me right and that they had the good sense to hug me when I needed hugging and to punish me when I needed punishing. I am thankful for the six years I worked in a Bibb cotton mill and I am thankful I no longer have to. I am thankful for the University of Georgia and the impact it has had on my life -- and will have on the lives of Jamie and Jackson and Jenna.
I am thankful for unexpected visits from old friends and for each and every one of the cards and letters and emails I have received from those wishing me well -- and I am thankful for Facebook and the enormous network of support it has provided. I am thankful for Dan Magill. I am also thankful for my lovely wife, Lisa, and the fact that she loves me even when I am not particularly lovable. In fact, I am thankful that she loves me especially when I am not particularly lovable.
I am thankful for Depend guards. I know you never thought you'd read that in one of my columns any more than I thought I'd write that in one of my columns, but I am. I am so very thankful for the doctors and nurses and technicians and medical researchers and all the other people who are in the trenches on a daily basis, helping me wage war against the insidious disease that is trying to limit my number of Thanksgivings. I am thankful that Alice Queen allows me to share my thoughts with her readers every week.
And I am thankful -- and confident that next year, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving -- I will be right back here with an even longer list of blessings.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.