It is time for my yearly Thanksgiving column, where I try to briefly outline some of the things I am thankful for during the past year. Some years are easier than others, though there is never a shortage of blessings if we look hard enough.
2021 has not been a year without challenges. Covid-19 remained with us, and Mary Lou and I lost many friends and acquaintances. While we mourn their passing, we are thankful for each of them and the ways they touched our lives.
I am thankful for yet another year with my wife, Mary Lou. It is now 43 and counting. I cannot imagine what the past couple of years would have been like without her by my side. We have shared, (some might say survived) moving to a new home, selling a business, my retirement, the pandemic and two major construction projects. I have tentatively promised no new projects in 2022.
I am thankful for the health and happiness of our children and grandchildren. I am especially thankful that we will all be together over this Thanksgiving holiday. My heart is full, and we look forward to kids running through the house, football on TV, more food than we can eat, and the retelling of old stories.
I am thankful for my mother’s continued good health as she starts counting down to her 90th birthday. Mary Lou’s father is just ahead of my mother in age. We can only hope that we have inherited some of their good genes.
I am thankful for the many new friends we have made in our new home and the many friends we still cherish in Donalsonville and southwest Georgia. In this season of our lives, Mary Lou and I are embracing new things and enjoying life. We look forward to expanding our travels as the world continues to open up in 2022.
I am thankful for long walks and good books. I am thankful for restaurants that are now open for business and for the friends with whom we regularly share food and fellowship.
I am thankful for sporting events and the ability to cheer on my teams with thousands of other equally passionate fans. Tailgates are back. Tiger Walk is energetic. The Jungle at Auburn Arena is full and feverish. Plainsman Park and baseball on a sunny afternoon. Volleyball and softball and equestrian meets, all shared with sporting fans cheering their teams on.
I am thankful for a physical return to church and the messages of word and music that touch my heart and soul. I am thankful for our firepit outside and our fireplace inside. Nothing like a crackling fire to make the mind wander and the conversation sparkle. I am thankful for Netflix and Zoom, but even more thankful that I do not use them as much these days.
Thanksgiving is a time to look back in time and remember the memories of a full life. I am thankful for my Dad, Mother and my grandparents and their role in helping me become a man. I am thankful for my sister and brother and their families, for our shared memories over time. I am thankful for my aunts and uncles, all gone now, and my cousins. My boyhood and college friends. So much to remember.
I once read that it is not where you are in life, it’s who you have by your side that matters. I am thankful to have so many of you by my side. My wife, family, and friends. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org