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20 things I am thankful for

No matter how much I try to be thankful for my blessings during the course of the year, it is the special holiday of Thanksgiving that seems to bring them all together.

Despite the challenges and setbacks of the past year, when I start counting my blessings, it is clear that I am truly a blessed person with a lot to be thankful for.

My wife. Mary Lou is my best friend and my No. 1 fan. She gives me unconditional love and is the rock of our marriage and family.

My children. Catherine and Elizabeth have taken the same path that I did with my own parents. We are closer as adults than we were when they were children. What a blessing to see them with their own families, homes and careers.

My sons-in-law. This isn’t a joke. I am lucky and thankful to have them both. They are very different, but individually they love my daughters and my grandchildren. They are really great guys and perhaps are the sons I never had.

My grandchildren. I could write for pages about this one. My grandchildren have brought such joy into my life. Henry runs at 90 miles an hour without letting up. Laura has a smile and demeanor that could disarm the hardest of hearts. They are becoming friends, which is amazing to watch,

My extended family. Uncles, aunts, cousins and in-laws. Scattered across the country, we get together with not much more in common than the blood that flows through our veins. What fun we have.

My friends. Old friends and new. Facebook has helped me rekindle friendships that had slipped away years ago. Some of those I have had the opportunity to visit. Some so close I could trust them with my life and my greatest secrets.

My pets. Wills and Henry. My first cat and my latest, greatest dog. They want nothing but a little attention in exchange for unconditional love. They can make me smile more quickly than almost anything.

My dreams. I am thankful for fulfilling some of my dreams. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Graduating from college. Having my daughters graduate from college. Having success in business.

My travels. I traveled to 48 states before I graduated from high school. Since then ML and I have traveled to numerous foreign countries, experiencing different cultures. Soon to come: Alaska, Hawaii, Russia.

My music. The ability to play the piano and organ calms my spirit and gives me peace. I am thankful to have been able to see Diana Ross, James Taylor and Carole King this year in concert.

The Seasons. I love the sunshine in the fall and spring. I love the feel of the first cool breeze as winter approaches. I love the overnight explosion of green as spring sneeks up on us. Summer, with its high temperatures and humidity, are not my favorites, but are more than offset by the three other seasons of the year.

Compass Lake. The common place for six generations of our family. Great sleeping, food and a hammock that catches the breeze just right. My children and grandchildren love it as much as I do.

Rainy days. After an extended dry spell in my early farming days, I promised I would never complain about the rain again; and I haven’t. I love the sight of it outside my windows and the sound of it on a tin roof.

Football. Any Auburn fan would have to be thankful for this year, even if it may all be taken away. What fun it has been, and I intend to enjoy the ride as long as I can.

My employees. The growth and success of our company is directly due to the outstanding employees we have from management to crew. I am thankful for everyone that does just a little bit more than necessary.

My church. Building an addition at a church is harder than doing it with your wife. The renovations and expansion of our church are beautiful, but the continued growth in faith of this body of believers gives me a place of sanctuary. I can’t overestimate how much the First Presbyterian Church continues to influence my life.

The moon and stars. I enjoyed a full moon and a sky full of stars with my children, but the excitement has been rekindled with my grandchildren. The wonder in their eyes and voice makes me feel the same way.

My city. Donalsonville is not where I was born, but it is where I have chosen to live. I am thankful for the way this city has nurtured me and my family.

My state. Georgia. What a great state to call home.

My country. I am thankful that I am an American citizen. What a great country we live in. No matter what our troubles, it won’t change my belief that I was given freedoms and opportunities to be successful as an American that are not options for most of the people around the world.

Finally, I am thankful to have been able to find myself, to be happy, and to enjoy life with those all around me. It hasn’t always been this way, and I realize there will be bumps along the path, but for now I will seize this moment and be thankful for all that I have.

Happy Thanksgiving to all as you too count your blessings.