Thanksgiving has once again arrived.....a time to take stock of all that is good in our lives and be grateful for our many blessings.

We sometimes forget to do so, you know.

We get so caught up in our daily lives and our challenges and what not that we don’t always stand back and say, “you know, I’ve got things pretty good when it comes right down to it.”

Why is that? Just human nature? We focus on those things that bother us more than our blessings.....but should it not be our blessings that keep us going forward? To be honest.....most complaints I hear from people about their lot in life are really pretty inconsequential when put into perspective.

Most of us have much for which to give thanks.....although that doesn’t mean we lead perfect, trouble-free lives, by any stretch. The world doesn’t generally work that way, and sometimes life is just hard.

Nonetheless, there are many things for which to be thankful.

I am grateful for family first, in all its many forms and sometimes convoluted dynamics. Hey, what would a “normal” family be, anyway, other than perhaps a little boring? That mix of parents, spouses, siblings, children, nieces, cousins, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws, outlaws and more.....well, where would we be without them?

Most of all I am grateful for my wife Kat, who has probably earned sainthood (angel wings at a minimum) for her patience and tolerance through our years together. She has been a blessing in my life in more ways than I can count.....giving me strength and support, sharing insightful perspective and gently correcting my course when the occasion calls for it.

I am grateful for my rural Midwestern upbringing and the values it instilled. We certainly weren’t overworked and always had time to pursue our own interests and activities, but we did help out with various chores and farming activities. My summer and after-school jobs during high school were on neighboring farms as well, so I got a fair amount of tractor time, threw a few hay bales around and such. I didn’t always enjoy it at the time, but I’m better for it. I still remember driving a tractor by myself for the first time.....and I also have fond childhood memories of building forts in the hay, riding a sled pulled through the snow behind a tractor, roaming the grove on some imaginary adventure and pedaling my bicycle over to a nearby stream to spend an afternoon fishing. No....growing up on a farm was certainly not all work and no play, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

I am thankful to live in the United States....though I fear that we have lost much of what has always made us strong and worry about what the future holds. But for all of the challenges our divided nation faces, is there any other country you would rather call home?

I am thankful for abundance. We are not financially wealthy by any means, but we are abundant in all the ways that matter most.

I am grateful for the home we have, the food on our table and the clothes on our back, and do not take them for granted, as those are things that not everybody enjoys. We are very aware and respectful that there are many less fortunate.

I am thankful that we do not feel compelled to define ourselves by having the biggest home on the block, the shiniest SUV on the lot or the most expensive ring in the jeweler’s case. Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but at the end of the day they are just things.

I am grateful for every day. As we know all too well, tomorrow is promised to no one.

I am thankful for relatively good health (at 62, I’ve got a few miles on me, but nothing major), and know how quickly that can change.

I am grateful for the Thanksgiving holidays of my late teens and early 20s, when for a few years I would spend the day sharing a meal and time with one or two of my grandparents. That time together was special, and Thanksgiving always brings those memories back to life.

I am grateful to have come to realize that which is truly is important in life, and that which is not.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to pursue the career I wanted, and to live and work in communities I care deeply about.

I’m thankful that sometimes I remember to take the time to be thankful....although I should probably do so more often.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, wherever the day may take you....my wish is that your holiday is filled with good food, family, friends and fellowship.

And that you, too, have much in your life for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.