A heaping helping of thanks

Before I’m as stuffed as the turkey on our table and people start calling me “butterball” (as if they don’t already), I want to take this opportunity to give thanks of my own. Having always thought that a so-called “attitude of gratitude” is one of the most valuable and redeeming character traits in a person, I would be remiss if I didn’t practice what I preach (or write, at least).

My favorite media mentor, Dennis Prager, often says about this topic, “Gratitude is the basis of the two most important things in life; happiness and goodness.” This wise man also says, “All happy people are grateful. Ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that being unhappy leads people to complain, but it’s truer to say that complaining leads to people becoming unhappy.”

Lastly, the wise American philosopher, William Arthur Ward, once said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

With that in mind, I hereby state unequivocally that I have much to be thankful for; not the least of which is for having been born in the United States of America. For all our problems, for all our faults, for all our mistakes – we are still the greatest nation on the planet and the last hope of people yearning for freedom and liberty the world over. Name one other country with crowds of non-residents lining up to get in, legally or not, simply to live on American soil and enjoy the many unique opportunities available here. And all I had to do for this extraordinary privilege was … well, nothing.

I’m thankful for the election (California results notwithstanding) of a few weeks ago. Once again, the public has reminded the elected elite who is really in charge. May it ever be so.

I’m thankful for the rescue of the miners buried alive thousands of feet underground in Chile. I’m even more thankful for the American companies and free market principles responsible for much of the cutting-edge technology used to resurrect those 33 men back into fresh air and daylight.

I am eternally thankful for my faith and the body of believers with whom I worship each week. There’s something profoundly humbling in knowing I’ve been given a gift I did not earn, can never repay, and that cannot be taken away.

I’m thankful that for the past 14 years I’ve been able to eek out a modest living (some years considerably more modest than others!) writing from the convenience of an office not 10 feet from my bedroom.

I’ve done many things to earn a dollar during my lifetime. And yet, in spite of the often crushing stress inherent with self-employment, along with the exhaustion brought on by late night/early morning, deadline-induced writing marathons, I must say that sitting at a computer keyboard in pursuit of creative ideas has been – all in all – a pretty sweet career.

I’m even thankful for the emotional roller coaster called the “empty nest syndrome” that my wife and I have experienced the past few months. Our two oldest kids are married and raising their own families. Our two youngest recently left for college – one out of town and one out of state. That makes for many empty rooms in a once-hectic and happy house. We are grateful that our kids have matured into healthy, independent, hard-working citizens and know that the ever-present heartache of missing them would not be so intense if we didn’t love and care about each other as much as we do. Sometimes even blessings can be painful.

Finally, I’m thankful for you, steadfast readers. Your feedback and emails make this weekly endeavor worth every deadline-induced panic attack.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a big, beautiful pumpkin pie just sitting on the table and it has my name on it.

I’ll see you ‘round town.