It’s Never Too Early To Be Thankful

Published 9:18 am Monday, November 30, 2020

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Pardon me for stating the obvious but 2020 has been a dumper of a year and I can’t wait to see it in the rearview mirror.

Try as I might, it has been difficult not to be overwhelmed by the constant barrage of coronavirus cases and deaths, violence in our cities, a contentious presidential race, hyperbolic political ads, racial disharmony and not being able to hug the people I love, lest I infect them or vice versa. I probably missed some other downers but it is too depressing to continue.

Then I remember that Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and an opportunity to get things into proper perspective. Yes, I know I am a bit early but cut me a little slack here. I need to remind myself these days that there are a lot of good things going on in my life. Maybe you do, too.

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First of all, I am thankful that we have managed to survive this year — so far — and pray next year will be better.

I am thankful to live in this wonderful country and look forward to the day when we can quit being hyphenated Americans and can all be proud Americans, no matter our skin color, our gender, our religion or sexual orientation. Maybe then we can quit giving credence to the special interest groups that can only survive by insuring we stay divided.

I am thankful for the life and for the contributions to his country of now-retired United States Sen. Johnny Isakson, who had to step down due to poor health. We may never see his likes again. I certainly don’t see anyone around today who comes close to measuring up to this great man.

I am thankful to be a graduate of the University of Georgia, the oldest state-charted university in the nation, located in Athens, Georgia, the Classic City of the South and to have been president of my alma mater’s national alumni association. (You will find that fact near the top of my obituary, which I hope isn’t anytime soon.)

While a gaggle of recent graduates were threatening publicly to withhold funding from the university until the names of 13 buildings are changed, the past presidents of the UGA Alumni Association, under the leadership of Abit Massey, of Gainesville, and my BellSouth colleague Carl Swearingen, were raising enough money among us to support students with financial needs now and in the future. Young folks: That is called gratefully giving back to an institution that has given you so much. Try it sometime.

I am thankful, oh so thankful, for family. I have discovered that in the final analysis, it is all about family. Everything else pales in comparison. I likely won’t be around to get them all to adulthood but I like what I see coming in the next generation: Cameron Charles Yarbrough, his sisters Hayden, Hadley and Harper, their cousin Henry Stanford Wansley and a brother to be named later (like next April.)

I am thankful for my church, although I do miss seeing my fellow parishioners in person every Sunday. It is strange worshipping on the Internet but at least I don’t have to wear a tie and long pants while I do.

I am thankful for Carla Watts who manages the Yarbrough household and all within it; for April, who delivers our mail; for Olivia, the greatest clerk in the history of the world at our local CVS; for the people who cut our grass and those who pick up our trash at 5 a.m. May I never take them for granted.

I am thankful to have seen a magnificent sunrise over the Firth of Forth in Scotland, the lighting of the Olympic Torch in the ancient temple of Hera in Greece; grandson Zack and I visiting Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park just months before he passed away too suddenly and for the honor of having painted a portrait of my late friend and AP correspondent, Dick Pettys, which now hangs in the press room at the state capitol. Good memories get me through the bad times.

I am thankful that 22 years ago, someone asked me to write one column one time for one newspaper. Today and some 2,000 columns later, I am still at it.

Most of all, I am thankful that you and I can have this weekly conversation. We are going to get through 2020 together stronger than ever. That’s a promise. After all, we are a team. Thank you.