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Every Thanksgiving, I take the time to pause and reflect on my life.  So much of what I write here is a response to the bad, the venal, the cruel and inhumane, and the destructive.  It is necessary to do that, for as John Stuart Mill said:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Yet were American life not mostly filled with goodness, love, belonging and liberty–which we must create and maintain–it would not be worth living.  I do indeed try, not nearly enough I know, to exalt the good.  Today, I address, to a small degree, that failing.

In the daily maelstrom of our lives, we take much for granted.  We can’t help it.  To function, we have to focus our attention on one thing after another, mundane things like driving without running into things, and more meaningful things like interpersonal relationships.  Actually, perhaps that’s too severe an analysis.  I’ve no doubt of a great many things, and it’s simply not necessary to think of them, to give thanks for them, every day.  Living well, as God would have us do, is perhaps the best form of thanks.

As I mentioned, on this scruffy little blog I often write about what’s wrong. I don’t do that because I’m an inherently pessimistic person; quite the opposite.  However, I know human nature perhaps better than the average bear, and that does make me a bit cynical.  As Lily Tomlin so wisely put it:

No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.

I do hope, by shining light on various subjects, to encourage people to do the right thing, perhaps to help them see things they might want to know about, and might care about.  I even hope to help others see things in ways they might not have considered.  To whatever degree I’m successful in that, I leave to you, gentle readers, to judge.

Also, I’m a writer, so I’m compelled to write.  It’s part of what I am.

So for this Thanksgiving, I present a brief list of the things for which I am thankful.  I will surely fail to recall some, omit others in the interest of not boring you to tears, and there are always things best left unsaid, but these are on my mind this Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful for:

*Mrs. Manor, who on December 2, will have tolerated and loved me for 41 years, years she has made the best of my life.  As Mark Twain said about his beloved wife, she is both girl and woman, and wheresoever she is, there is Paradise.  I tell her how much I love her every day; I will always feel it will never be enough.

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*The everyday miracles the Father provides in such profusion.

*The Lord, who has saved my pathetic rear end on more than one occasion.

*My physicians, and medical and drug researchers, who have kept me alive and functional through illnesses that only a few decades ago would have you reading my obituary rather than this scruffy little blog.

*Each new day, regardless of old and new aches, pains and annoyances.

*Being born in the United States of America, where everyone so born begins life having won the lottery.

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*The opportunity to influence children, to give them the chance to become more than they are.

*The chance to read and grade their work, even research papers, which on a yearly basis, make me fear for the future of western civilization. They’ll figure it out when they go to college or out into the world of work, and they’ll remember their old English teacher, hopefully, kindly.

*The opportunity to treat everyone with sincerity and kindness, no matter how hard that might be.  I’m not always successful, but I’m aware of it, and work at it.

*As Teddy Roosevelt said, “the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.”  Work defines us, but we can’t let it consume us.

June, 2017: directing the Gillette Chamber Singers, a choir I founded 33 years ago.

*The gift of music, and the opportunity to use it to inspire others, to bring a smile to their faces, and joy to their hearts.

*The opportunity to try to live as God wants me to live.

*The opportunity to meet those that need to meet me, and to meet the people I need to meet.

*The Internet, which has given me friends I may never meet in person (I’m talking bout you, Bookworm).  I’m not grateful, by the way, for pop up ads.

*My old friends, who, as Harry Chapin put it (paraphrased), know who I am and know where I’ve been.

*Family, who love me regardless.

*The lives I’ve been in the right place at the right time to save.

*The women and men who have written a check for an amount up to and including their lives, and who, serving our military, will not be home for Thanksgiving this year.

*The lives of countless American men and women who placed the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of liberty, that each new American will always win the lottery.

*Those politicians, police officers, and all governmental employees, including President Trump, who take seriously their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution, who put America above party.

*All the patriots who expose those that don’t, regardless of the cost.

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*The fact that God put extraordinary men–and women–in the colonies at the right time to found America.  I’ve never thought that a coincidence.

*The Constitution, which makes America different, in all of human history, and which can hold us together, if we take Mill’s advice.

*All the pets I’ve loved, who lived such short lives, and who didn’t care about my too many failings.

*All my friends, who know my failings, and care about me anyway.

*My teaching colleagues, whose dedication always inspires me.

*My students in a small Texas town, who won’t know how good they are for many years.  As I’ve always taught them, nothing substitutes for experience.

*Free will.

*The publication of my first book, License To Kill: The Murder Of Erik Scott.  Getting anything published these days, particularly if it’s not an attack on normal Americans, is near-miraculous.

*You, gentle readers, who take the time from your busy days to read this scruffy little blog, to catch my mistakes, and to so intelligently and politely comment.

*Mrs. Manor and I are thankful for our teaching careers, which will come to a formal resolution at the conclusion of this school year.

And finally, we’re grateful for the years to come as we once again reunite with family, and for the opportunity to love and support each other as we age and prepare to go to our final home.

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A wonderful and restful Thanksgiving to all.  May we all meet here again next year, and may the Lord bless and keep you and yours.