Counting Our Blessings

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Once again we gather to give thanks, another year drawing to a close. The days, weeks and months now roar by in a blur. Life reminds me of those movie scenes from the 1930s, when directors wanted to convey time passing quickly and used the device of pages flying off a calendar in rapid order. That is how time feels to me, years flying by. I look up and Kasey, my oldest daughter, who not so long ago sat in my lap reading stories, is about to be oldest enough to legally run for president. She is in her fifth year of teaching autistic children — my once-toddler who would happily wander around at parties with a picture book in hand, find a corner and plop down, and make herself comfortable among the beer-drinking college students.

At this paragraph, I am sitting in the Houston home of Meredith, my middle daughter on a Saturday night — the girl we once called Goose — while she and her husband (she has a husband!) are out bowling. She too is all grown up, this little girl I have been writing about for three decades. Now she makes a living as a writer, all online. Last night we sat up late talking about the future of print vs. digital journalism and other weighty matters. Imagine, Goose earns a paycheck as a writer and editor.

Later that evening my Beautiful Mystery Companion sent me a photo via the phone (and who would have imagined you could have done that back when my oldest kids were growing up?) of Abbie, our youngest daughter, playing on the floor with our two dogs in front of the fireplace in the study, logs crackling in the hearth. When we first met nearly five years ago, Abbie was reading Harry Potter and playing with Barbies, what seemed like a few moments ago. Now we’re starting to teach her to drive and encouraging her to fend off pimply boys. It is not working, I fear.

I am grateful for all of this, of course — daughters to love, a wife whom I adore and who improbably loves me as well — even for the twists and turns of our lives, which have evolved in unexpected ways since the last Thanksgiving. So here we are, taking stock once more as the leaves carpet the land. A generous year of rain in East Texas has resulted in lovely foliage, pushing last year’s drought back into the recesses of our memory, at least here in East Texas.


I have much to be thankful for beside the obvious blessings of my family, friends and foremost a faith that has sustained me through the darkest of times. My health remains robust with mere minor aches and pains. I can walk six miles without getting short-winded or sore, easily scramble up the ladder to blow the leaves off the roof, and last summer swam underwater up and down the length of our pool without taking a breath. I did so to show off to Abbie that the old man still had it. Plus, I can get the senior discount at the movie theater and elsewhere without feeling even remotely like a senior. And I still refuse to join AARP.

Still, most days I am given the senior discount for coffee at McDonalds without dispute. However, the other day, the clerk argued with me a bit, asking, “Exactly how old are you, anyway?” When I told her I was 57 and she said I didn’t look it, I let her keep the change out of the dollar bill. Normally it’s just 53 cents for the coffee. That’s something to be thankful for, a young woman at McDonald’s who doesn’t think I qualify for the senior discount on coffee.


We will gather at noon for a traditional meal of turkey and dressing, groaning plates of side dishes, a ridiculous amount of food as always. I listened on the radio to Sam Sifton, a New York Times editor who has just published a book titled “Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well,” while driving back from Houston the other night. He ably defended the tradition of gorging ourselves on this all-American holiday, dismissed anything but turkey as the main meat dish as blasphemy, and claimed pie for dessert as absolutely necessary. Mr. Sifton is a man who speaks the truth about such matters. I plan to take his advice.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  Dig in, people, right after saying grace.

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