Last Sunday, First Baptist Church had a guest speaker. The minister talked about how "thanks" and "giving" should go together, especially at this time of year.
I took notes on his sermon, a practice I recommend for everyone who goes to church. I may never use those notes again but it keeps me focused on what is being said.
He suggested making a list of what we are thankful for this week. I know you are reading this at least a week after Thanksgiving Day but that's OK. It's a kind of "time travel," the difference between when the writer writes and the reader reads.
I'm thankful for so much.
My wife and family come to mind first.
Linda has taught me what family is all about in the past 40 years — to be glad they are around and to be patient — when they are around. And to accept their grace, too.
I'm thankful for our home town, Brazil, Indiana.
I grew up in one town from birth until I left for college and then returned for a few months during a semester I was not in college. So, you could say I lived in one "home town" for about 18 1/2 years.
We loved in various communities over the years before moving to Brazil in 2001.
About a year ago, Linda pointed out what we both knew to be true: Brazil is our home and we're not planning to move out of town again.
I'm thankful we live here because of so many good people I have been privileged to know and a few I have outlived.
On election night, I shared a table in the Superior Courtroom with a young lady who was doing election reports.
As various people came in, I visited with them, some stopped by our table to chat and she asked me, "Do you know everybody?"
"No," I laughed, "not hardly."
"How many people do you know in this room?"
I did a quick count and said, "Six."
"Six out of 11," she said.
But that's one of the things that is great about Brazil. You drive down the street or go to a meeting and you know so many people and many of them you count as your friends.
Dementia doesn't run in our family but if I succumb to it, at least someone will recognize me and be able to take me home!
I'm thankful for our organizations.
I was a a member of Rotary for a number of years and still have friends in that organization.
I belong to the loved YMCA. That's not too strong a way to put it. I look forward every morning to seeing other members who I count as friends, even if I don't know all of them by name. There are the people I work out with in the weight room, the people I have met on the track and in the machine room, and the guys I drink coffee with and laugh with every morning.
I tell everyone my job and my family have me the rest of the day but the hour I spent at the Y is my time.
I am turning into my grandfather! He used to meet with the guys on the retaining wall of the Pulaski County Courthouse.
One day, a man in a suit came strolling down the sidewalk, shaking hands with everyone.
One of Grandpa's cronies said, "Here comes the next President of the United States."
I believed him, of course. It was Congressman Charles Halleck. He never became President but he was on TV from Washington during coverage of President's Kennedy's funeral. And, I met his grandson through Facebook earlier this year.
I'm thankful for my job, certainly.
I just celebrated my fifth year back at The Brazil Times. Add that to approximately six years the first time and that's 11 years.
I didn't leave the under the most happy circumstances the first time and it took me nearly four years to be convinced my tenure this time doesn't have to end the same way. So far so good! Like the fellow said that fell out of a 30 story building, about the 15th floor he said, "So far, so good." I try every day not to fall!
And, I am thankful for our local elected officials. I don't call them politicians because I have watched them in action for 11 total years now and I know their dedication to being good leaders.
That applies to our county officials and our city officials as well.
The first story I wrote when I came back to The Times was an interview with Mayor Brian Wyndham.
"How did you do it?" I asked him immediately after meeting him.
"Do what?" he asked.
"How did you find the money to repave our city streets? We have been told, at least since I moved here in 2001, we didn't have the money!"
He patiently explained to me the process used to come up with the money.
I knew he was a governmental genius and that opinion hasn't changed. Mayor Wyndham truly is the right man for the time in Brazil.
I have a lot to be thankful for.
What about the the other part of "thanksgiving"? The "giving."
Well, I believe I'm doing it right now. I believe with all my heart that The Brazil Times is an important part of what makes Brazil and Clay County something for which to be very thankful.
Journalists have been in the news. Some people hate us. Some people appreciate us. But freedom of speech and freedom to report the news, even if we get it wrong sometimes, is essential to what makes American great.
Every time a copy of the latest edition of The Brazil Times hits the streets (or the internet) we are giving back to the community and doing a public service.
So, as I write this, two days before Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful and as the minister said, we want to keep giving.