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Teddy bears, mementos, and balloons have been placed at the site of a fatal school bus crash on Talley Road on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The makeshift memorial to victims of the Monday crash, which killed 6 Woodmore Elementary students and injured dozens more, has grown since the road was reopened Tuesday.
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Jay Greeson

Happy Thanksgiving.

I offer that in the most pure connotation, even though as we look around at our nation, our cities and our lives, we may wonder if "thankful" is the right word right now.

I believe it is. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find those reasons.

At our house on this day, everyone writes one thing they are thankful for on a piece of paper and we read them to the group.

I have too many to share on one card, so here's my list.

- Thankful for this city. Forget the internet polls that make the Chamber of Commerce smile or the occasional tug of war that can be bike lanes, when Chattanooga stares true tragedy in the face, we collectively and individually come out swinging. The tears and heartache about Monday's bus tragedy will be everlasting for the parents who lost their most treasured parts of this life. Yet again, people from all parts of Hamilton County rallied and responded in ways that make us all know there is enough good in this world to continue fighting the good fight.

- Thankful for Fred Fletcher, the Chattanooga police chief. In a sea of familiar faces looking into news cameras, Fletcher stood out with calm and professionalism and compassion. Is there a better compliment for a public official than simply saying I feel safer — and quite grateful — that Chief Fletcher is at the wheel?

- Thankful for the lives we have. This is forever true but even more poignant this week considering the loss of those Woodmore angels. We want to question why. We want answers. We want some iota of understanding. And there may never be any, but the efforts to support those who lost their children must continue.

- Thankful for the parts of my mother I see in my daughter. She is funny like my mom, and caring. And if you guys and gals promise to not tell either of them, she's rather set in her ways — some may call that bossy, at our house we call that leadership skills — like my mom was, as well.

- Thankful for Signal Mountain Church of Christ. There are people who read the Word, people who believe the Word and those who live the Word. The way the church community cared for and supported my mother before she died and my father every step along the way shows they read, believe and live the Word.

- Thankful for Lee, William, Dane, Reed, Sam, Charlie, Nathan, Grey, Tristan and Timmy for sharing the field with a first-year football coach. It's amazing how much I learn every season coaching youth sports, and this fall was no different. Here are two examples: Cherish every play because you never know when a broken arm may end your season. Also, the ultimate goal and the word may be sports-MAN-ship, but I learned yet again that if the adults among us tried to have more sports-kids-ship, we'd all be better off.

- Thankful for the chance to get know some of the legends our area has lost this year. From Pat Summitt to Dr. B to Dalton Roberts, simply knowing them and being around them made me think, made me smile and made me grateful for their greatness.

- Thankful for the simplest of pleasures that mean even more as each year passes. A cup of coffee with my wife on the porch. A column well-written, or the chance to turn around and do it again after a column that should have been better. A game of kickball. Wanting one more piece of pizza and finding out there is one more piece of pizza. Riding with the windows down and singing — badly, in my case — along with the radio.

- Thankful for all of the amazing feedback and compliments from so many that if I tried to list each of you it would fill this entire space.

- Thankful for all of the amazing feedback and complaints from several of you. Whether it's Pat or Ronnie in their direct correspondence or the always thoughtful response from Rick A. at timesfreepress.com, please know that your feedback is always appreciated and always considered. We may not agree, but your words make me think, and for that I am grateful.

Finally, in this year especially, I'm thankful for family. We all are, I bet, especially after this week's tragic crash. We all become more aware and alert to the preciousness of life. Now think of the loss of loved ones we all have endured, be it my mom last month, my wife's Gigi last year, those precious school kids this week or whoever that may be for you.

It is reason for pause, of course, and an even bigger reason to be thankful for the time we get to spend with them.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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