Thankful for good times…and hard lessons

It’s Thanksgiving — and I am truly thankful for more blessings than I can list, or think of, or deserve. I am relatively healthy; a creaky knee, an occasional spasm in the underworked muscles of my back, and an infrequently annoying allergy seem to be more signs of advancing age than declining health, though the possible relationship doesn’t escape me.

I have two children I’m proud of, and grandsons who delight me. I love and appreciate Pat, my wife of more than 35 years, far more than I tell her. I need to do better. She is my rock.

This may seem a tad strange, but I’m also thankful for my challenges — the hard times. I’ve seen a few over the course of 66 years.  A few failures, a handful of disappointments, and some losses that seemed unendurable at the time, made me stronger. The support and comfort of family and close friends made certain that my shortcomings, the missed opportunities, and the griefs of life never hardened me against the opportunities to find joy. I’ve discovered it everywhere I’ve ever been.

I’m thankful for the times I got caught in the act of making mischief. The minor punishments exacted for those indiscretions taught me valuable lessons and kept me, I’m certain, from pushing the boundaries too far.

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I’m thankful for a job that I love, as I have mentioned many times. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to meet, interview, and write about America’s farmers and ranchers.

I’m thankful for all the nitpicking editors I’ve worked with, who have and continue to make everything I write better. I always got the credit, and much of it belonged to conscientious editing. Ed, Glen, Hembree, Forrest, and Bob, thanks.

I am thankful for the boundaries that I did push. Moving from my home in rural Upstate South Carolina, all those years ago, to the glitz and glamour — as well as the traffic and the trials of life in a big city — to take a job in Atlanta, Ga., with Southeast Farm Press, was one of the best decisions of my life. Moving to Texas many years later was another.

I’m thankful for choosing journalism. At one time I thought I would be a football coach. Hands down, this is better.

I am thankful that my mother taught me the love of books. If there’s a book at hand, I’m never bored. I thank my dad for teaching me the value of hard work, though he also encouraged me to get as much education as possible so I would have more choices in life.

Finally, I am truly thankful to live when and where I do. Otherwise, I would have missed all these things and all the people I am blessed to have in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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