It’s hard to believe that yet another year has passed on by, but I guess it beats the alternative.
Today is the one day of the year when a nation and world takes some time to express gratitude, giving thanks for all the blessings in their lives. I’ve always said that I celebrate Thanksgiving every day and that my list of things to be thankful for just continues to grow.
I know I’ve been doing this for a number of years and it’s without a doubt my favorite document of the year. There are always new items to list, but more often than not, I repeat myself from years past. And thanks to my buddy Roy Exum who planted this idea in my head back in the day.
I AM THANKFUL that I woke up another day without a hangover. If my math is right, this is some 10,204 consecutive days without and that never gets old.
I AM THANKFUL for my dear wife Althea and all she has done and continues to do for me. We will celebrate our 24th anniversary in April and I’m scared to think where I’d be without her.
I AM THANKFUL for family and the memories we’ve created on special days such as this. I’m not sure I ever thought I’d live this long, but so many of our parents and friends have passed on, so we just have to remember the good days from the past and keep moving forward.
I AM THANKFUL for the power of prayer and a loving God who continues to take care of me. As long as I put my trust and faith in the God of my understanding, I have no worries about tomorrow or what’s around the next corner.
I AM THANKFUL for Thomas Quisenberry, Michael Sepulveda and Jeff Parker and the job they do as ministers at my church. Things have been a little bit different in recent months for obvious reasons, but they make worship real and the folks I know from there make a huge difference too.
I AM THANKFUL for miracles. They continue to happen all around me and I’m pretty sure it’s not by coincidence.
I AM THANKFUL to be the most blessed young man you know. I have everything I need and more. We all know we don’t have to look very far to realize just how true that is.
I AM THANKFUL for my career as a sports writer. Nov. 6 marked the start of my 43rd year in this role and I can’t imagine having any more fun or meeting any greater people that have crossed my path in that time.
I AM THANKFUL for John Wilson and his brilliance in starting the Chattanoogan.com. I have the freedom to cover almost anything at any time for any reason and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
I AM THANKFUL for all the state champions I’ve covered during that time. It doesn’t matter the sport. Winning at the highest level is a real reward for hard work, dedication and a little luck along the way. I’ve shared plenty with teams from Baylor, McCallie, GPS, Bradley, Cleveland, Hixson and Red Bank and they’re all special.
I AM THANKFUL Josh Heupel is the man leading the Tennessee Vols and that his team has brought new excitement to my world of college football. I just hope he sticks around a while as we head back to the Promised Land. I also feel the same way about Rick Barnes, Kelli Harper and others who do things right in Big Orange Country.
I AM THANKFUL that East Hamilton advanced to the finals of the state volleyball tournament this fall. They didn’t win, but what a great run they had. I got to be good friends with coach Antonela Tomic Suzuki and found out first hand just how much she loves and cares for her players.
I AM THANKFUL I’ve been blessed with two darling grandsons. Riley just turned two on Nov. 14 and Hudson is just past seven months, but my next priority is finding a way to spend more time with them.
I AM THANKFUL that my son Michael and I got the chance to attend Game Five of the World Series in Atlanta. It was one of the most crazy atmospheres I’ve ever been associated with in sports and I’m sorry they lost that night, but they won it all two days later and it was an experience I’ll remember forever.
I AM THANKFUL for my friend Joe Elkins. I’d known him for more than 60 years as a member of my church and I got the honor of mowing his yard for the past five years or so. He was one of the finest men I’ve ever known and my life was indeed saddened when he passed in early November at the ripe old age of 95.
I AM THANKFUL that Chattanooga is blessed with two of the best radio announcers in Jim Reynolds and Larry Ward. They are such professionals and are a real positive for me when I get a chance to hang out with them.
I AM THANKFUL for my family. Both my parents are gone, but a day never passes when I don’t think about them. I think they would be proud of the way my life has turned out as I learned much from them both, despite the fact it took a while.
I AM THANKFUL that my sisters Emily and Nancy are two of the best cooks I know. Much like my mother, they can cook almost anything and it will be a memorable experience to share another Thanksgiving meal with them today.
I AM THANKFUL for my friend Wanda, who is a fixture at AT&T field in the summer. She’s the energetic and enthusiastic lady who hawks programs inside the place and always has a smile on her face.
I AM THANKFUL for my time at the Chattanooga News-Free Press. We had a wonderful paper back in the day and that’s where I got my first chance as a sports writer. I still consider many of those guys to be close friends, including Mark Wiedmer, Stephen Hargis, Lindsay Young and David Paschal. I don’t think I’ve ever met Mark Kennedy, but I thoroughly enjoy his columns and the family experiences he shares.
I AM THANKFUL that McCallie will play for its third straight state football title next Thursday. I’ve always said that Ralph Potter may be the greatest high school football coach and he always gets the best from his players. His record simply speaks for itself.
I AM THANKFUL that all of those nine state football finals will be held at Finley Stadium. You want to see some outstanding talent at the high school level? Make your plans to be there next weekend.
I AM THANKFUL for old friends like Ray McIntyre, Pat Hagan and Dick Dillard. We have started a tradition of meeting for lunch around town about once a month and it’s so much fun to re-connect with these guys. And what great running memories we all have to share.
I AM THANKFUL for my co-workers Dennis Norwood, Michael Locke, James Beach and Joseph Dycus. They are all sports nuts like me and are always willing to help when I call their name. We also have a couple of young writers by the name of Jacob Robinson and Jack Gold who I have yet to meet. They are so much further ahead of the game than I was at that point and I just hope their love of sports continues to grow.
I AM THANKFUL to be a proud co-owner of a flat-bottom, aluminum fishing boat. I must confess I don’t get out as often as I’d like, but what peace and serenity you can experience sitting on a calm Chickamauga Lake on an early summer morning.
I AM THANKFUL for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and the continued impact it has on my life. Sobriety is without a doubt the most wonderful part of my life and everything good about me is a direct result. I can’t say enough about all the people who know me, love me and support my continued journey on that path.
I AM THANKFUL for my buddy Tom Gordon. We’ve been friends for a long time, but he’s also my computer guy. You know that my entire existence as a writer is dependent on my laptop, so when things jump off track, Tom is the guy who I call and he fixes it right every time.
I AM THANKFUL for tears of joy. You probably know that I’m a very emotional person and that I can shed a tear without much reason, but at least I have the ability to feel these days as there was a time when everything was numbed by drugs and alcohol.
I AM THANKFUL for puppies and kittens. We have two of the best in Juliette and Sambo and I live my life every day with the goal of having as much unconditional love as they have.
I AM THANKFUL for the wood-burning fireplace at our house. I guess I’ve been a pyromaniac for a long time, but there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as sitting in front of a nice roaring fire and watching college football every Saturday.
I AM THANKFUL for Chattanooga’s National Cemetery and the fact that both my parents are buried there. It’s the most sacred place in the world and is breath-taking on Memorial Day when American flags grace every grave and those huge ones line the drive.
I AM THANKFUL for helping hands. I didn’t used to think I needed any help, but the older I get, the more help I need. So thanks to everyone for helping me get by.
I AM THANKFUL for old reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. No doubt my favorite show on television, if more people would be like Andy and Aunt Bea, this world would be a better place to live.
I AM THANKFUL for fingernails. This may sound kind of trivial, but there was a time when I was a kid when I bit them to the quick, which caused much pain and discomfort. Glad I finally realized just how valuable they can be when they’ve grown out a bit.
I AM THANKFUL for the Chattanooga Lookouts and Minor League Baseball in general. I had the chance to cover a bunch of Lookouts games this summer and I’m proud to say my record when I covered was 11-10. There were many exciting wins and a few heartbreaking defeats, including back-to-back games when they lost 14-2 and 26-3.
I AM THANKFUL that the Sports Barn East continues to have its Turkey Trot 8K on Thanksgiving morning. I’ve run in more than my share of them and have lots of wonderful memories, but I’m proud of those who are still motivated to stay fit and to support great causes like the kidney foundation.
I AM THANKFUL for all the women and men in my world who are veterans. Althea is the veteran in my family and I will always be grateful to her and those like her who were willing to pay the high price for my freedom.
I AM THANKFUL for fireworks. If I live to be 100, I’ll always enjoy the bang of a good firecracker. And I have yet to watch a fireworks show I didn’t enjoy, especially when someone else is paying for it.
I AM THANKFUL for positive people. This world is filled with those who are negative and see the worst of situations, but those on the other side offer such a better solution.
I AM THANKFUL for mercy and not justice. If I had gotten all I deserved along the way, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this right now.
I AM THANKFUL that I won’t be anywhere the shopping malls on Black Friday. I don’t like to shop under normal circumstances and I wouldn’t be caught dead there on Friday, even if they were giving stuff away.
I AM THANKFUL for my little Ford Focus. Next week will mark 14 years since I bought that little yellow rocket and it still goes way too fast. But what a great investment it’s been.
I AM THANKFUL to be the proud owner of hearing aids. I’ve had substantial hearing loss in both ears for a long time from too much loud rock-and-roll music and too many loud power tools, but what a difference they can make.
I AM THANKFUL for sunrises and sunsets and really good eyes to enjoy them with.
I AM THANKFUL that I don’t have to work nearly as long or hard as I once did. People always ask if I’m retired and I say that I’m not. I love what I do and just hope that you’ll be in attendance at my funeral the day when that time comes.
I AM THANKFUL for college football and that I become a TV junkie on Saturdays when I’ll watch for 12 hours or longer to see all the great games around the country. And you wonder why I don’t watch the first snap of NFL action on Sunday.
I AM THANKFUL for the Chattanooga Public Library. I learned the love of reading a long time ago and greatly appreciate the services the local library offers.
I AM THANKFUL that I am covered by adequate financial resources. Between social security and the salary I still draw, I’m not the richest guy in town, but my needs are met.
I AM THANKFUL for all the responses I get from this column every year, especially from friends across the country I don’t see as often as I’d like. So feel free to respond, even if it’s something you disagree with or don’t like.
And now that I’m finally to the end of another long list, I just wish a most Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Thanks for your continued support.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)