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What I’m thankful for

Posted: November 26, 2014 8:37 a.m.
Updated: November 28, 2014 1:00 a.m.

During this holiday season, I’m thankful for:

• The nutso NFL fans who sit in sub-zero weather in shirtsleeves (or no shirts at all) to cheer their teams on -- even Philadelphia Eagles fans, so acerbic that one year during a halftime show at a Christmas holidays game they booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs.

• Hampton Street, where I finish my run every morning. With overhanging trees, well-maintained houses and friendly people, it’s everything a small-town residential street should be.

• The fishermen who head out of town towards Lake Wateree in the pre-dawn stillness, pulling their boats behind their pick-ups. Most of them will return home happy even if they don’t get a single nibble, knowing that a quiet day on the water is a great way to soothe the soul.

• Kids on Christmas morning riding their new bikes.

• The senior tees, and those occasional days when a low number will still sneak onto the scorecard.

• Teenagers who don’t act as if it’s a pain to talk to adults -- and to call them by name.

• Cheeseburgers, clam chowder, Kit Kat bars, tiramisu, New York strip steaks, onion rings -- all cardiac no-nos but oh, so tasty.

• OK, for you health food fanatics: spinach salad and grilled asparagus.

• The early stars of NASCAR -- Junior Johnson, Cale Yarbrough, Speedy Thompson -- who’d just as soon have a good fistfight as a close race.

• Full moons, half moons, crescent moons -- any time you can peer into a clear night sky and see that big old orange friend smiling down.

• Those people with serious illnesses who face each day with grace, dignity and courage.

• The occasional film clip from the glory days of Saturday Night Live, when Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase made us all laugh out loud.

• Amazing Grace, Be Thou My Vision, Let Us Break Bread Together.

• Youth league sports coaches -- dads, usually -- who make it fun for the kids and don’t stress victory at all costs.

• Opening the mailbox and finding a note from a friend -- the old-fashioned, hand-written kind, which can never be replaced by e-mail, no matter how convenient electronic communication might be.

• A finger or two of Jameson Irish whiskey, straight up, on a cold night.

• Little country churches with white steeples that reach for the sky.

• James Taylor and the dulcet tones of “Carolina In My Mind.” And while we’re at it, the music of Kris Kristofferson; Antonio Vivaldi; Simon and Garfunkel; Eva Cassidy; Frank Sinatra; and Van Morrison, the gravel-voiced crooner who’s gotten better and better with each passing year.

• Motorists who allow others to get into a line of traffic.

• Fourth and goal at the two yard line. Three-and-two count, two outs, bottom of the ninth, score tied. Last fence, two steeplechasers neck and neck.

• Omigosh: grandchildren, of course.

• The late Ray Charles’ rendition of  “America The Beautiful.”

• Belted Galloways, those nearly comical cows that look like Oreos.

• The fact that we’re all free to worship as we please.

• The amazingly recuperative powers of a hot shower after a challenging day.

• The PBS series on the Roosevelts, which brought the entire family into fascinating focus and reminded us of Theodore Roosevelt’s incorrigible daughter, Alice, who said of his insistence on being the center of attention, “My father wants to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral and the infant at every christening.”

• And, while we’re talking TV, let’s not forget Blue Bloods, The Good Wife and Downton Abbey.

• And, finally, of course, family and friends.

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