I hope you have plenty to be thankful for on Thursday. Too much even.
I know that I do.
The list is lengthy. Starting with the traditional givens of health and family and friends, moving to the whimsical, the emotional and the wise events that shape our year. (This year, I can't offer enough thanks for a fall league baseball bunch with my son and bunch of middle schoolers including Cheese Selby who reminded all of us about the fun and the purpose of youth sports.)
I am thankful for our freedom. For the sacrifices made to keep it and the critical job we have in maintaining it.
My 9-year-old daughter, as we talked about this column, offered, "I'm thankful for daddy. And money." My wife asked where she ranked on the list, and Madeline Ray offered, "and then mommy." Yeah, that one will be repeated.
With that, I asked for and wanted to share things that people — some you will recognize, some asked for their names to be left out — are thankful for beyond family and health on this Thanksgiving.
* From Weston Wamp: "While most of us eat, rest and watch football Thursday, many everyday heroes keep on. I'm thankful to those people who don't expect credit but show up every day and serve, sometimes even on Thanksgiving. The teacher making sure her students have a turkey on Thanksgiving, the nurse sharing a meal Thursday with a patient, the single mom who is working when she shouldn't have to be — just to find a way. The cop keeping watch, so that we don't have to. I'm grateful for the example these people set."
* From one of several readers who were thankful for the obit observations we share on Saturdays: "We were surprised and elated by your recognizing my dad in conjunction with the new articles on obituary look-backs. It was timely in that the minister read your comments as part of the service last Monday the 18th. It was a beautiful tribute and celebration of his life with military honors. Your comments made it even more special."
* From Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger: "Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things around you that you're thankful for. Each year, as I count my blessings, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be from this area. I was born in Hamilton County, and have resided in and around the area my entire life. Not only am I grateful to live in a place with such a close-knit and caring community, but I am humbled to be a citizen residing in a town where people want to better themselves and the neighborhoods around them. Every day I notice something new that makes Hamilton County and each municipality stand out among other counties and cities. It is those daily reminders that reaffirm my love for this town and give me one more thing for which I have to be grateful."
* From a reader who often disagrees with me: "I am thankful to have a newspaper that offers a lot of different opinions. I can read David Cook (on Sundays) and remember why I care and read what you write and remember why I get so angry."
* From UTC football coach Rusty Wright: "Thankful Victor made a field goal after 3 misses against ETSU; thankful SoCon refs have thick skin; thankful my coaching is a lot better than my golf game; thankful my wife still washes my clothes after a loss!; thankful my body can still handle getting beat up by laundry bins, mosh pits and crowd surfing; thankful my daughter has a handle on her Graves' disease and can enjoy doing what she loves; thankful for my assistant coaches that work as hard as anyone in our profession; thankful a group of young men call me coach and I get to impact lives at a place I love!"
* From a regular reader and responder to my A2 column: "I am thankful for your common-sense approach to every topic you cover. I am amazed how often you and I agree on things."
* From Public Defender Steve Smith: "I'm thankful for redemption. On the way to a favorite restaurant, the Feed on Main Street, I drove past the dilapidated St. George Hotel on Market across from the Choo-Choo. It wasn't long ago most all of Main Street was just as derelict. But with a bit of effort and attention, people and places can remake themselves anew. I see it every day. We all need to be redeemed. And we all need to help redeem one another."
* From another reader who is not a member of the Greeson fan club: "I am thankful that you only write three days a week."
* From former Ridgeland High School star and current New Orleans Saints starting safety Vonn Bell: "Really what I am thankful for is that God put me in the position for all that I have on a day like Thanksgiving Day, when I'm going to play in an NFL football game. He's given me multiple opportunities. He's given me the opportunity to take care of my family. He's given me the opportunity to succeed in the profession I always wanted to have at a high level. He's given me the tools to work at my profession both mentally and physically to continue to improve. He's kept me from suffering major injuries. All of these things related to what I do on a daily basis make me feel so blessed as a human being."
* From a reader — and friend — who is a devoted reader of the TFP: "I am very thankful for Right 2 the Point — it's the best part of the paper."
Which leads us back to maybe the most important words we string together this side of "I love you."
Readers, friends, coworkers, fans and foes, I say, "Thank you."
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.