I try to be thankful every day for my many blessings, but this is the time of year I pay special attention to all those blessings. So here, in no particular order, are the things I am most thankful for this year:
God’s Grace, for without it I would be lost.
The promise and hope of Christmas and the joy of Easter.
“The Big Bang Theory.” I always thought the show was funny, but it got funnier when I asked a couple of physicists if that’s how physicists really act, and they said “Yes.”
Turkey, dumplings and sauerkraut. When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner those three items will take me back to more than 60 Thanksgiving dinners I have enjoyed with my family. I can tell I’m getting old because I think back a lot on those dinners when I was a teenager and a young man. I really miss all those people who made holiday dinners (and every other day) so special. It’s hard to believe they’re gone.
Wine. I love drinking it. I love talking about it. I love learning about it. I know it’s just another food, but It sure makes other food more interesting. And it’s always changing.
My son Michael. He doesn’t always (ever?) do it the way I would do it, but he manages to live an interesting life. Except for the times I want to wring his neck, he continues to amaze and delight me. My mother told me many times I would someday understand the pain I was causing her, and as usual, she was right.
The smells that come from the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day and the smells all around the house during the Christmas season.
Earl Klugh, Chris Botti, Eric Marienthal, Kirk Whalum, Peabo Bryson.
Fried okra, fried chicken, Steak ‘N Shake burgers, deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno (the closest is Lexington, S.C.), great lunches from Kitchen 1454, bacon, White Castle burgers and other assorted health foods.
Sunrises at Edisto Beach.
Sunsets in Hawaii.
Beautiful days in Augusta.
Magical crisp, cool nights in New York.
The Chicago Bears, who even though they have stumbled lately, still bring me great delight, and have done so for most of my life. I can still sing the entire fight song.
Wines from Chile. I recently returned from a week of visiting wineries in Chile. I have always enjoyed their wines, but seeing the countryside and talking to the winemakers gave me a new appreciation for what they are doing. In the weeks ahead I will be writing about the wineries I visited and the quality improvement movement in Chile. They are making impressive changes.
Old friends like Sandy and Steve, Trish and Clint, Bob and Catherine, Sharon and Richard, Dan and Heather, Allen and Julie, Kathleen, Anne, Jim and Leigh, Keith, who put up with me when I was busy working, and still put up with me now that I’m loafing.
New friends like Kathie and Tim, who make me feel like I’ve known them forever.
The wonderful feeling we all get between now and New Year’s Day. Despite the grinches, you see so many more people smiling and enjoying life. We seem to draw closer to family and friends.
Humor. Life is way too serious to be taken seriously. If you can’t laugh every day, you’re not really living. These days I just look in the mirror when I want a good laugh.
All the many people who have worked so hard to bring opera back to Augusta. (Don’t miss the great holiday concert Dec. 2 at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church.)
Great writers like Joe Posnanski, Tommy Tomlinson, Scott Michaux and many others I’ve worked with over the years who have amazed me with their talent.
Willie Nelson, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Tara Scheyer, The Band, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Goodman, Frank Sinatra.
Travel buddies like Steve and Sandy, John and Dorothy, John and Edith, Tim and Kathie, who are always ready for another adventure.
People who read the Bottle Report. You make what Dan and I do even more fun.
The healing hands of time. I had a tough stretch a few years ago when my father and my wife died within seven months of each other. And even though I didn’t think it was possible, life goes on and gets better again.
My dear angel, Pat, who blessed me for 20 years. She was one of a kind: genius, compassionate, someone who really cared about everyone she met, original thinker, a person who fiercely guarded her family, who knew how to laugh at others and herself. Now she’s probably watching and laughing at all the silly things I still do.
My precious Teri, who brought joy back into my life. How I could get so lucky twice in my life is the real mystery. She has helped me see the world in a whole new way and warms my heart every day. And she has generously shared her delightful family: Erin, Kelly and John, Jake, Tyler, little Erin, Mary Jo and Russ.
I am thankful for so many blessings and hope you take some time to count yours. Happy Thanksgiving.