It has been a dozen years now since I last walked into my mama's kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, I loved to get there in time to appreciate the aroma of the dressing before she put it in the oven. She used celery and onions and just the right amount of sage. A lot of dressing has been ruined by using too much sage. Even though I will never taste my mother's dressing again, I am thankful for every memory I have of her -- and I am thankful that I am a part of a family with lots and lots of great cooks, so even though the dressing won't be just like hers, it will be way good.
My list grows longer every year, so here we go. I am thankful that I got up this morning. A lot of folks didn't, you know. I am thankful for the quiet of an unspoiled morning when the house is still asleep and I am alone with my thoughts, my newspaper and my first cup of coffee. It's the best time of day. I am also thankful for a house that is full of family and friends and music and laughter and funny stories -- and I am particularly happy for the funny stories when I am not the butt of the joke.
I am truly thankful that my lovely wife Lisa and I are blessed with children who are energetic and intelligent and respectful. There's not a bum in the bunch. Praise the Lord. And I am really thankful when their feet are all under the kitchen table at the same time.
I am thankful for Southern college football. I am. There is nothing like it anywhere. I am thankful for Dan and Wheeler and the ladies of the Oak Tree Gang who make every autumn Saturday in Athens special -- and I am thankful for the "Heritage Mafia" who care enough about their old history teacher to make the long trek across campus to pay a visit on game day.
I am thankful when I walk into church and see Karen Tanner on the piano and Martha Hyde on the organ, looking and sounding just like they did the first time I visited Rockdale Baptist with Lisa 30 years ago. I am thankful for Sunday dinner at Bitzi's house and Friday night dinners at Chianti's and fried chicken any time I can get it.
I am thankful for those increasingly rare occasions when I run across a preacher who talks about Jesus more in his sermons than about himself. And I am very thankful for the e-mails and phone calls from people wanting to know if I would be available to talk to their group. I am thankful that my oldest child, Dr. Jamie, has people like Anthony Norton and Ronnie Brown to guide her as she begins a new career. I am thankful that our youngest child, Jenna, has a heart for missions -- although I am very, very thankful each time she touches down back home. And I am thankful that Jackson Lee has more than lived up to his namesakes to become one of the finest young men I know.
I am thankful for Jeff and Greta Beech. Our community -- and the world -- is lucky to have them. I am thankful when I get an e-mail from Wayne Kerr agreeing with my opinion and I am thankful when I see a Facebook post from Cooper Morris, advising all his friends in cyberspace that he is settled in for the night. And I am really thankful that Ben Evans is my friend, even if he can't count so good.
I am thankful that I know what it feels like to be pushed toward the shore by a powerful wave at North Myrtle Beach and I am thankful for the beauty of the sunset behind the salt marsh, as seen from Jekyll Island, and I hope and pray that I get to experience both this coming year. I am thankful for a warm dry house and a pantry full of groceries and I am thankful for the alarm clock on those mornings that it doesn't go off.
I am thankful for every man and woman who has served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States because they are responsible for every freedom we have. And I am thankful for the firefighters and police officers who put their lives on the line every single day on our behalf.
I am thankful for medical science and for the good people at Emory Hospital who are doing everything in their power to help make my friend Caroline well -- and I am even more thankful for the power of prayer because it means that there is a way I can help, too.
I am thankful for long walks and short skirts and the Monday morning crossword, because even I can solve it -- usually. And, as always, I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions and memories for yet another year with you, our readers. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. May God spread his blessings over you and yours.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at email@example.com.