Just a few things (some serious, some silly) for which I’m thankful at this season:

These cool autumn nights, which make for much cozier sleeping than the hot summer kind.

Scrumptious chocolate cones from the Ice Cream Parlor.

The end of those messy midterm elections — with all their nauseatingly dishonest TV ads. Yuck. Is this really what our American political system, once the envy of the world, has come to?

Wife Brenda, sons Jacob and Ben, daughter Kate, cousin Mike, and all the other special people whose relationships so enrich my life.

The privilege of getting to spend more than a half-century as part of America’s free press — which our Founding Fathers considered so important in a functioning democracy that they mentioned it not just anywhere in the Bill of Rights but in the very First Amendment.

Activia probiotic yogurt, which the doctor prescribed after my 2016 knee replacement surgery, and which has been an indispensable part of my daily diet ever since.

Chapel Hill NPR station WUNC (91.5 FM), to which I’m hopelessly addicted — except during annoying fund drives such as the one that just ended, when I ungraciously switch over to Charlotte station WFAE (90.7, but available locally at 93.7).

Fiona Ritchie’s weekly offering of authentic

Scottish and Irish music, “The Thistle and Shamrock,” which airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on WUNC-TV. It’s enough just to listen to that terrific accent of hers.

Breakfast scones from Harris Teeter.

Getting to raise my hoarse and shaky bass voice every Sunday morning in the choir at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, under the brilliant direction of Homer Ferguson.

My bright journalism students at Chapel Hill — who for the past decade or so have helped make me feel, if not young, then at least younger.

Fat Tire beer.

The indispensable Easy Note app on my iPhone, because of its remarkably efficient and dependable role in helping keep all my chores and obligations neatly arranged by category, date and priority. Try it!

The rear-view cameras on the back and right side of my Honda HR-V, which make turning, stopping and lane-changing so much safer. How did we ever live without that technology?

The good fellowship afforded by the guys in our Junto breakfast group, which convenes monthly in that neat corner room at the 1913-vintage Pine Crest Inn in Pinehurst.

And for the good food so ably and cordially served by waitress Tammy.

The TV quiz show “Jeopardy!” — even if Brenda does beat me at it regularly. (I do somewhat better at “Wheel of Fortune.”)

Joshua Wolf Shenk’s fascinating book “Lincoln’s Melancholy,” which is subtitled “How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness” — and whose CD version, available at the Southern Pines library, kept me totally engrossed during a long recent road trip.

Bo Biscuits from Bojangle’s. Yum!

Our two crazy black Labs, May and Georgia, and our even crazier (if possible) cats, Lucy and Lily.

The honor of riding in the recent Veterans Day Parade in downtown Southern Pines, even though I’m afraid my habit of waving at bystanders — and occasionally grinning and pointing at ones I knew — made my gestures look a bit too much like those of Hillary Clinton.

Bell Tree Burgers from — well, the Bell Tree.

The life-shaping experience of spending so many days and nights of my youth on the Missouri dairy farm of my maternal grandfather, Percy Smith. (How much better our society would be if more members of today’s younger generation were

blessed with the same gift, even if I sort of took it for granted back then.)

The stimulating and informative “Kasie DC” talk show, which airs Sunday evenings on MSNBC.

Being able to take down and tune up my good old Ventura folk guitar and strum it now and then. Peter Yarrow or Paul Stookey I ain’t, but what the heck.

And last but not least, I thank whatever gods may be for the treasured gift of living among the wonderful people of Southern Pines.


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