Another year to be thankful

After writing weekly columns for a number of years, I find myself settling into certain routines.  One of those routines is that I now write a Thanksgiving column to be delivered on Thanksgiving Day each year.
I have observed that some of the things I give thanks for each year are the same.  There is nothing wrong with that as we should always be thankful for another year of health and well-being.  I am continuously thankful for my family as it grows and finds its own way and place in the world.
I am thankful for the time and memories I shared with my boyhood friends, Jimmy and Keith, who both passed away in the last 18 months.  I am also thankful and rejoice at the renewed health of my friends Richard and Mark, giving hope to all who unexpectedly face cancer at a much too early age.  I am also mindful of the many other friends that have taken both paths of these particular friends in the past year.   
I am thankful that I have a mother that suffers a fall the day of an Auburn football and still attends, saying, “I am 83 years old and I don’t know how many more games I will get to attend”.  Three days later I discover a video of her belly dancing on Facebook.  What a love of life she has.
I am thankful for my extended family of siblings, in-laws, uncles, aunts, cousins, children, and grandchildren.  I am especially thankful my brother, Ernest, and my sister, Jo or “Sister” as we call her.  They all enrich my life and make me want to be a better person.  Having been blessed by the long life of three of my grandparents, I am especially happy to be a part of my own grandchildren’s lives.     
I am thankful for my wife, Mary Lou, who has always been the better part of our partnership.  She is a good person who happened to choose me to spend her life with.  I hope I live long enough to make her believe that she made the right choice.  I know I did.
I am thankful for my dog, Harry, who is approaching the end of his long life.  There are reasons the phrase “A dog is a man’s best friend” rings true.
I am thankful for the 1,000 employees that now work for Ponder Enterprises.  I realize that it is their hard work that makes our company a success, not mine.  Ernest and I have had the good fortune to surround ourselves with very good employees and co-workers who are all a part of our company family.
I am thankful for the city of Donalsonville, and am proud for the many positive things that are happening in our community.  We are bucking a trend, and hopefully are beginning to believe in the brightness of our future.
I am thankful that I live in the great state of Georgia, despite the Dawgs beating my beloved Auburn Tigers.  I am even more proud and thankful that I have the good fortune to live in the United States of America.  The more I travel around the world, the more I realize what a blessing it is to be an American.
Thursday Mary Lou and I will join my brother’s family and our uncle at a table filled with every food we have come to associate with Thanksgiving.  Every dish on the table will have some connection to holiday dinners in the past.  We will tell the same old stories, some passed down from generations now gone.  That just makes the day more special.
Our children and grandchildren will be spending this holiday with their other grandparents this year.  I am thankful for the great relationship that we have with our children’s in-laws as we share the lives of those that connect us.     
Finally, I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts week after week with our community and loyal readers in over 40 states.  To those I know, and to those I have never met but who just happen to be reading this column, I hope that you have a long list of things in your life that makes you thankful this year.
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Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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