I am not sure when I began my tradition of making a list of some of the people, the things, and the blessings in my life. My best guess is the early-1980s and at first I would correlate the number of thanks with the year. As we neared the year 2000, I would tell people I was bracing myself for zero but with every new year it has gotten easier and easier to come up with my list.
What’s more, everyone who has ever read “Why I Am Thankful” is just as good as I try to be. Seriously, look around your house, or in your pocket, or the eyes of any child and you can find dozens of things. The only rule is one I have kept since the get-go: Nothing negative or mean-spirited will ever wiggle its way onto the annual list. Every celebration tomorrow, where it be 100 people or only one, must involve our hearts.
So, as I take my place at the Thanksgiving table …
I AM THANKFUL that Chris Norton, a former UTC football player who was told he would never walk again, did exactly that when he thrilled so many of us the day of his wedding. Incidentally, he’s been picked as the main speaker at Siskin Hospital’s Possibilities Luncheon on March 5.
I AM THANKFUL that the inspirational Wreathes Across America effort, with plans to place a wreath on over 40,000 grave markers in our National Cemetery on Dec. 15, will include our Confederate Cemetery this year in honor of every American citizen.
I AM THANKFUL that we can go to any Chik-fil-A and order a large chicken-noodle soup, but every time you ask it be delivered in a medium Coca-Cola cup, your IQ will increase by 3 points – it fits perfectly in your car’s cup holder and is a sensational warm treat to sip as you rumble down the road.
I AM THANKFUL that Lookout Mountain’s Carol Mutter and Signal Mountain’s Chris Howley were among our communities Most Value Persons as the Mayors of their respective towns before stepping down this fall.
I AM THANKFUL that I have now lived long enough to vote “for” a politician than “against” some rascal I am unable to trust. In the recent run for Tennessee governor we had four of the best Republican candidates in the primary and I would have been delighted with any of them. But, mark my words, Bill Lee will be a dandy and Randy Boyd will excel as UT’s new chief executive.
I AM THANKFUL the Alabama football team has led by 16 or more points at halftime against every team they have faced this year except one. And being tied 10-10 against The Citadel last week is certain to deflate some egos and assure Nick Saban will have Rolaids at his table today.
I AM THANKFUL that when Leo Stokley, age 69, died earlier this month, a proud bunch of our veterans took the reins when no family member claimed the body. It is believed he had no close kin. Then it was discovered Leo was a Marine who did some tours in Vietnam. That’s when veterans from the central part of the state declared nobody was going to cancel anything. “No veteran should have a funeral without someone holding his or her service in highest regard. It’s not right and it’s not fitting read an announcement. Hundreds then showed up at the Boyd Funeral Home for the funeral and watched in solemn dignity as Mr. Stokley was buried with full military honors at the Middle Tennessee Veterans cemetery in Nashville. Semper Fi.
I AM THANKFUL for the way Wayne Turner, the football coach at Tyner, has consistently proven that kids from the inner city cannot only excel, but have a fabulous time as they do it. How can we bottle that magic and get it to the classroom?
I AM THANKFUL that 33-year-old Ross Edgley just got his picture taken for the Guinness world records after becoming what is believed the first human being to ever swim the total of Great Britain’s coast line. That’s 1,791 miles and it took him 157 days – swimming up to 12 hours a day. And how tough is he? “When I came out of the water (near the town of Margate) I had to put my goggles back on. I was starting to cry.”
I AM THANKFUL for “The Signal Mountain Six,” that’s right, the sparklers who were named National Merit semifinalists. Jack Poss, Max Burk, Jake Little, Emily Perez, David Cornea and Paolo Patrick Lacoponi are each the real deal and what’s true is that people all over the county are proud of them.
I AM THANKFUL that I was walking across the Walmart parking lot when an attractive lady needed help with her car. The problem? It had a manual transmission and, according to the U.S. News & World Report, 85 percent of U.S. drivers can't work a clutch. Of all the different makes and models, fewer than five percent of our new cars offer a standard transmission and now it’s an option.
I AM THANKFUL for good, old-fashioned karma. In Houston a would-be robbery picks a Latino telephone store to rob after telling the clerk and customers to get out. As the clerk leaves, she calmly locks the door from the outside and in this video you can witness how an armed robber can get religion and ask for forgiveness in less than three minutes. The robber admitted in court he was guilty – this after half of Texas had watched this surveillance tape – and he is spending this Thanksgiving and many more to come in the hoosegow. To witness a transformation, CLICK HERE.
I AM THANKFUL when the true catches up with a lie. When Harvard running back Devin Darrington allegedly “flipped a finger” at some Yale defenders last Saturday. incensed officials charged him with un-sportsman-like conduct and cancelled his touchdown. He swore he was holding up his first finger; “We’re number one!” and, only after the game, further review proved the Harvard runner was truthful – he made no obscene gesture. He also scored two TDs in the last six minutes of the game to give the Crimson a 45-27 Ivy League victory.
I AM THANKFUL for laughter. I don’t know if this is true but the story goes a Harvard freshman took a 28-year-old blonde from Connecticut to the “The Game” which is the second-oldest series in the country. Yale leads the series 68-60-8. Regardless, afterwards, he asked her how she liked it. "Oh, I really liked it " she replied. "Especially all the tight pants and big muscles, but I really couldn't understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents." Dumbfounded, her youthful boyfriend asked, "What do you mean ?" "Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the rest of the game all they kept screaming was...'get the quarterback, get the quarterback !"
I AM THANKFUL that America’s favorite Bible verse, this according to the Bible Gateway site, is still John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." But would you have thought the runner-up would be Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I AM THANKFUL when I come across older people who are more in love than they were when they got married. Dolly Parton, who has been married to Paul Dean for 53 years, just shared her secret with People magazine: “I always joke and laugh when people ask me what’s the key to my long marriage and lasting love,” the ever vivacious 72-year-old said. “I always say ‘Stay gone!’ and there’s a lot of truth to that. I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we’re together and the little things we do.”
I AM THANKFUL for Dan Ray Cummings, a garbage man who defied an order to abandon his route as the forest fires burned in Magalia, Calif. because he wanted to check on his older customers. Sure enough, at his last stop he saw a 93-year-old woman standing on her porch so he broke another company rule by getting her inside his big truck’s cab. The two spent the next five hours heading towards safety and afterwards Cuming shrugged it off. “Best conversation I’ve ever had in a truck.”
I AM THANKFUL for the anonymous season ticket owner of the Washington Caps hockey team who took part in a recent 50:50 raffle. That’s when one lucky fan gets half the money collected and the Capitals give the other half to different charities. Before the raffle began, it was announced the charity would be the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. The pot totaled $38,570, which meant the fan would get $19,285 … but no! The anonymous winner gave his winnings to the Jewish Foundation as well for the victims’ families in the recent mass shooting, telling the Caps’ front office simply: “It was the right thing to do.”
I AM THANKFUL for anyone who celebrates this Thanksgiving by giving a donation to the Greater Jewish Foundation of Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life Synagogue. To assist the families of the victims and to assist with rebuilding the synagogue, two donation funds have been set up at the First National Bank of Pennsylvania: Tree of Life Victims and Family Account and Tree of Life Synagogue Account. Donations may be made directly at any branch of First National Bank of Pennsylvania or may be mailed to: First National Bank of Pennsylvania (Attn. Toni North) 1940 Murray Avenue, (Attention: Toni North) 1940 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15217
And finally, everybody’s favorite:
I AM THANKFUL that the Pilgrims found a turkey before they saw a ‘possum.
* * *
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody