We have a tradition in our church that on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, people stand up and say what they are thankful for.
Three years ago, I stood up and gave thanks to God for keeping me alive through a little open heart surgery the month before. I realize that open heart surgery is a common procedure these days, with an extremely low fatality rate. Tell that to yourself as the anesthesiologist tells you to count backwards from 10.
This year, someone gave thanks for a near-miraculous recovery of her 2-year-old daughter, thanks to a bone marrow transplant from the girl's 6-year-old son. Less dramatic thanks might not have been quite so life-changing but they were clearly heartfelt.
I kept my peace, not because I didn't have many things to be thankful for, but because I felt more comfortable this year thanking God personally.
Some families go around the table and have everyone say what they're thankful for before food is served every Thanksgiving. It's an expanded version of saying grace before dinner.
I wish now that my family had practiced that tradition. Maybe it would be easier for me today to express my gratitude publicly more often.
I don't mean the nightly prayer before dinner, although that's important. I certainly don't mean the "Thank you, Jesus" that comes after I score a discount at the gas station, or successfully complete a task (like writing this column).
I mean the heartfelt gratitude I feel for the many blessings I have received and continue to receive. I am very grateful for the health of my family, particularly my children and grandchildren. That's a great gift we don't often acknowledge — or even recognize — until it is gone.
I'm thankful I live in this wonderful country, no matter what kind of mess it's in right now. It is where I have the freedom to write what I believe, to live where I want to live and to worship where and what I want to worship — freedoms many in the world do not have.
I am thankful that I live in Long Beach, California, for so many reasons. There's the weather. There's the location. But most of all, there's the people. I am truly blessed to be able to work alongside so many big-hearted people giving their time, treasure and talent to make things a little better for others.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to make a little bit of a difference by joining those charitable folks as a volunteer, as a board member or a simple supporter. That goes for the incredible talents I've had the pleasure to work with in the arts and culture community as well. It would take an entire column to list them all, but you know who you are. And I'm thankful for you.
The single most gratifying thing about my job here at the Grunion is the times when our stories make a difference. If we can make an organization's fundraiser a little more successful, if we can get a nonprofit's services to more people who need their help, if we can smooth a family's path, it makes my day.
I'm so, so thankful for the many mentors, partners, coworkers and friends I'm made here over the years. Again, the list is very long, but every second I've been with you has been a blessing. Thank you.
Most of all, I'm thankful for you, gentle reader. Your interest, your encouragement and yes, your criticism, has made this little endeavor worthwhile.
This Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks. For you.