Sure, Iím thankful for family, friends, a roof over my head and that giblet gravy stuff you pour over the dressing.

            Sure, Iím thankful for family, friends, a roof over my head and that giblet gravy stuff you pour over the dressing. I appreciate to my core the very essence of Thanksgiving, which was instilled in me at an early age. I relish the memories of Thanksgivings past. But letís not get carried away here with the big pictureÖ..

            Iím also thankful my foot didnít slip when me and Brewer hopped that west bound freight train rolling slowly through town. We couldnít have been more than nine or ten and we had our hearts set on CaliforniaÖÖor at the very least, Oklahoma. I didnít realize how much more difficult it was when the train was actually moving! I grabbed a metal bar on the side of a tanker and watched breathlessly as my feet dangled along the rails. I pulled myself up mostly because I was too afraid to let go! We hung on until the train stopped after an eleven mile ride to Trezevant.

            It was another bad idea gone awry. But we didnít lose a limb. And nobody even seemed to have missed us. We caught a ride back home on one of Herschel Smithís cement trucks and filed the whole incident under ďno harm, no foulĒ. The memory is not exactly on par with drumsticks, honey baked ham and sweet potato pie but it is a memory!

            Iím thankful for the Bible Mom gave me for my birthday one year. It saved my life! David Mark was coming at me with a butcher knife. I canít imagine what I had done that had made him so angry. Only brothers can provoke that much wrath in each other. Iíd probably called him a sissy, or a ninny. Since I was older and stronger, he needed an equalizer. The knife was the first thing he saw. The Bible was the closet shield available. He stabbed, I protected. The blade went in the back, penetrating through the colored maps, the concordance, an outline of the life of Jesus and some suggested daily readings before coming to a halt in the seventeenth chapter of the book of John. 

            Now, David didnít really mean me any harm. We were just ďsettling our differencesĒ in an entertaining way. But even to this day, sometimes as Iím reading deep down in the red lettering, my mind ponders off into the ďDivine InterventionĒ realm. And I remember Daveís sharp sword sliced right through that verse that says ďto give thanks in all thingsĒ!

            Iím thankful the first girl I ever dated is not the girl I ended up with.

Iím thankful I lived through my ninth grade football season. Listen, if you havenít lined up opposite the likes of Tommy Herron, Bob Cassidy and Jim Williams, you wonít have a clue what Iím talking about here. They were big, bad, fast seniors. I was the little engine that couldnít! Bob would hunt me up on the third team, scout defense and knock me flying. Before I could get a landing flap down, Jim would crash me nose first into the frozen turf. I would be straggling to my feet when Tommy ran right through me. Not over me, mind you, or around meÖ..Iím talking directly through me! He went in one side and came out the other!

            People filled that stadium on Friday nights to cheer for those seniors leading us on to victory. They never even noticed me. I was number 20, way down at the end of the bench, gently holding my swollen wrist in my ďgoodĒ hand and still bleeding from a cut above my left eye Iíd suffered when I didnít duck quick enough on Tuesday!

            Hereís something else that you wonít understand, but Iím also thankful for, this Thanksgiving season. I learned more about life, myself and what it takes to make it in this world as a freshmanÖÖ.than I did as a senior starting in every game.

            Iím thankful it wasnít me that took the red light off the only police car in town and hooked it up to the jukebox out at the Diary Bar. There were some mad neighborhood watch groups over that deal! I did drop a nickel in the slot and pushed A-ll just to see the light flash. Iím not positive about the statute of limitations here so I canít tell you how much trouble Leon had wiring a police light up to a record machine. But the memory sure lives on.       

            Iím thankful Mom chose Daddy over that Bert Freemen guy.     

            Iím thankful I only went off to college one time. I donít think anyone could live through leaving home twice! You talk about out of your safety zone! And lonely. And afraid. And lost. Iím telling you, that freshman year in any setting, is there mostly to toughen up the hide a mite.

            Today, Iím thankful my kids moved outÖÖ.and stayed gone. Theyíve got to make their own memories.

            Well, you get the idea. Letís not get so caught up in the obvious this Thanksgiving that we donít appreciate the little, everyday blessings that make life so real, so interesting and so much fun.

            UhÖ..heyÖ..Whew!  Iím also thankful I didnít end up with the second girl I ever took out!