No, that doesn’t refer to being sick of leftover turkey, dressing, rice & gravy, cranberry sauce, and all the rest of that most anticipated dinner of the year. In fact, Julia and I plan to peel back the aluminum foil one last time in a couple of hours for a little repast redux. Microwaved, of course.
It means that, in addition to the suddenly bulging midsection of my body, my heart is also filled to overflowing with gratitude. Now, I generally am aware of the good things that God has seen fit to bring my way, but this week, this unique American moment, my mind tumbles around so many specific names and things and places and memories, that they all run together in one big jumble of “I can’t believe all this is mine”-ness. But, here goes my attempt to start a list….
• For Julia Park, my love, my answer, my partner in life.
• For my three babies, all God-given and all grown up into amazing people. And I have one terrific son-in-law.
• For the crazy things my grandson says, like “ It looks just like this one!”, raising his free hand frantically one day in the car, desperately wanting help to find the other one after pulling it back through the armhole of his shirt, hiding it under the seatbelt and getting it stuck there.
• When my granddaughter tells me I’m her favorite man and writes me cards with that on them.
• When my other granddaughter, at age 3, finally got up her nerve and settled into my arms with her head on my shoulder. It’s been there a lot since then.
• That my sisters sure seem a lot nicer now than they did when we were growing up. I like to see them and hate to see them go. I can’t believe I’m saying that.
• For church. All my life, I’ve been in the church. It’s made all the difference. Thank you, thank you, Mom and Dad. I’m sorta thankful for you two, also. Like head-over-heels thankful.
• For good jobs and great opportunities. I wouldn’t be able to be retired now, were it not for good people who gave me a shot.
• That God put in my being this insatiable desire to capture the world with a camera. I come alive when I raise it to my eye.
• For my buddy, Jim, who I’ve been hanging with, through side-splitting and sober moments, for a long time.
• For new friends of late, particularly those who get as silly about photography as I do. To have one or two great pals in your life is a gift. To have as many as I’ve been given is an embarrassment of riches.
• That I’m healthy. My goodness, am I ever blessed in this. Every morning that I get up and go about my day doing for myself, going where I want when I want, I am conscious of all those folks, many of whom I know, who have to have help, or who can’t go at all.
• For the senses. The smells that can instantly transport me back to another moment in time. Eyes that know color and shape and neighbors. Taste buds that long for, and are satisfied by that first taste of morning coffee just brewed and steaming. The sounds that warm your heart and those that warn of danger. For skin that feels the first warm breeze of spring and the soft pudge of a one-year old. These are our navigation tools, given to guide us around and through all of life.
• That I live in the U. S. of A. All the people here and abroad who love to denigrate America for whatever reasons, God bless you. And God help you. ‘Cause if you can’t see for yourself that our good so astoundingly trumps our bad, then bless your little heart, you just don’t know no better….
• For aimless drives in the country, watching no clock, looking for nothing more than my heart.
• That you can make just about anybody grin with a simple smile and a “How’re you doing?”
• All the other folks who’ve been given passions and skills in so many areas that make my life better. Doctors, pastors, computer geeks, mechanics, trash collectors, writers, leaders, teachers, athletes, chefs, artists, carpenters, mailmen. Yes, even politicians. Can’t live without ‘em, folks.
• For the first Saturday of college football and its “Toe Meets Leather!” feel. For the last Saturday of college football – Rivalry Saturday – that gives us UNC-N.C. State, Florida – Florida State, Alabama – Auburn, Texas – Texas A&M, and so many more here in the South.
• For Tar Heel basketball. Blue Heaven.
• That it’s ok for a Methodist to enjoy a wee dram and a stogie. Oh, yeah.
• That I know Jesus and He knows me. By name.
I have to stop. Not because this list covers it, not by a long shot. But because I hope you’ll stop now and make out your own list. I’m sure it’s as long and rich and life-giving as mine. Happy Thanksgiving. All year