The third rock seems to make that annual orbit around the sun faster and faster with each passing trip. A year used to seem like an eternity. Now the weeks and months -- and the holidays -- seem to be tripping over themselves. Just yesterday, or so it seems, I was slow-cooking ribs on my Big Green Egg for Fourth of July festivities and now I already have my turkeys defrosting in the refrigerator for Thursday's feast. As the years get shorter, my Thanksgiving columns get longer and longer, so let's get started.
First of all, I am thankful that I am here and able to publish this litany of blessings on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Last winter, a lot of very educated people who know about these things were telling me that I might not be. And I am thankful for each and every petition that has been sent up on my behalf from each and every congregation, prayer circle, Sunday School class and individual. The prayers are working. Thank you.
I am thankful when the "light comes on" for one of my students and I realize that they are moving from memorization -- which is the Holy Grail of modern test-driven educational curriculum -- to critical thinking and self-realization, which should be our goal. Even after 39 years in the classroom, it still makes my day.
I am thankful every time someone wants me to sign one of my books. I am twice as thankful when they want me to sign two.
I am thankful for those men and women of the United States Armed Forces who stand vigilant guard over my liberties, here at home and on foreign shores.
I'm thankful for Nelson DeMille and wish he would write more than one book every couple of years.
I am thankful when the preacher -- any preacher -- says, "In conclusion," and I am thankful when the song is so familiar that I don't need a hymnal. I am thankful for hymnals, too. Screens are fine, understand, but I am still thankful for hymnals.
I am thankful when my kids text me, just because they are thinking of me and am even more thankful for those increasingly rare occasions when they all make it to the house at the same time. And I'm thankful that each of them has found their niche in life and are well on their respective ways to becoming happy and productive members of society.
I am thankful that 30 years ago my lovely bride, Lisa, promised to love me and stand by me in sickness and in health and for better or for worse -- and I am thankful that she has kept her word. And I am thankful for Rick Corley, who keeps all of our vehicles running and never overcharges.
I am thankful for each of the 15 to 20 doctors who have picked at, probed, cut on and otherwise treated me over the past 24 months. I am especially thankful for the folks at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. I am also thankful for every man, woman and child who has ever walked or ran or clogged or rocked or knocked on doors or hosted a ball or done any other activity to raise money for cancer treatment or research. One day we will find a cure. If it is too late for me it won't be too late for millions of others.
I am thankful for Loran Smith and his wife of 50 years, Myrna.
I'm thankful for the phone call on a cold wintry night that tells me school has been cancelled for the next day because of snow. I'm just as thankful when the snow melts so I can get out and about.
I am thankful for Rice Krispies treats at Halloween and sweet potato pie at Christmas and my sister's German chocolate cake on my birthday. I am thankful for fried chicken any time I can get it. I am thankful for the half-dozen Saturdays a year when I get to gather with my friends under the oak trees behind the vet school and pay homage to the tradition that is Southern college football -- and I am thankful when I hear Brook Whitmire declare that "It's Saturday in Athens and time to tee it up between the hedges."
I am thankful for college basketball players whose arms I can still see and for baseball players who don't mind getting their uniform dirty or playing hurt. I am thankful that Chrysler created the Dodge Caravan -- the greatest vehicle ever made for its purpose. I am on my fifth. I am also thankful that General Motors still makes Cadillacs, because I can still dream of one day owning one.
I am thankful when our 10-year-old mutt escorts me up the driveway to get the paper every morning. In fact, I am thankful that there is still a paper in my driveway every morning. Speaking of which, I am especially thankful that I have the honor of visiting with this paper's readers every week. It is an honor I do not take lightly.
And, finally, I am thankful that I have another chance to be thankful for Dan Magill. He is a true treasure and I appreciate him so much.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. I hope we can share many more together.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.