The first thing to give thanks for in a thanksgiving column is having enough things to be thankful for to fill a column. Or maybe it’s having a column to give thanks in. Or maybe having a job you find meaningful and challenging and creative (and which includes said column).

Or maybe it’s having family you feel positive about, even when they sometimes act a little goofy. Or living in a community you feel proud of, even when it’s sometimes a little goofy. Or having friends (and family) who love and support you even when you get a little goofy (sometimes more than “sometimes”). Or having family members who are also friends.

I’m thankful that Barrie Park is finished and looks good and that municipal marathons really do have finish lines. That I don’t have to do everything myself. For responsible, responsive landlords. For voters willing to reinvest in their community by passing necessary referenda. That smart people are willing to dedicate long hours to the thankless job of village governance.

I’m thankful for cozy places to wait out the winter. For a really warm winter coat. For people who go above and beyond in decorating for the holidays. For second chances and midlife crises. For monastery monks chanting every morning and every night. For church bells. For the incredible number of planets that managed to align during this past baseball season. For the Illinois basketball team’s extraordinary NCAA tournament run. For Charlie Weiss resuscitating the Notre Dame offense.

I’m thankful that disasters always bring out the best in human beings. For the artistic impulse, which survives all attempts to stifle it. That beauty outlasts ugliness and that truth outlasts lies. I’m thankful for people who never cease to surprise. For the resiliency of the human spirit. For quantum leaps. That there’s more to people than ego. For being able to leave the window open at night. For remembered dreams. For grass-scented air and sudden summer coolness. For the gentility of old age. For peaceful death. For a woman’s smile. For moments of contentment. For conversations that make you lose track of time.

I’m thankful for hot, spiced wine at the Christkindlmarket warming house. For Louis Sullivan buildings in the late afternoon sunlight. For the perfumed wake of a passing woman that unties the knot in your stomach. For unpolluted sunlight and cumulus clouds against a “trueblue dream of sky.” For laughter when it catches you by surprise. For movie dialogue when it rings true. For Southern writers and Southern accents. For wildflowers on the sides of highways. For the Millennium Park bandshell and “the bean.”

I’m thankful for the way happiness seems to hover over an open prairie on a sunny, summer afternoon. For enchantments and afterglows of any sort. For firelight and candlelight. For the feeling that accompanies coming home. For the magic of meeting someone from your past. For pomegranates. For reading the newspaper on Sunday morning in Austin Gardens when all your teams won the day before. For unexpected connections. For lying in bed awake in the morning stillness. For hitting the pillow on the verge of sleep.

I’m thankful for anything that makes you laugh so hard your face cramps. For genuine dialogue. For full moons. For the right chair in a cafe with the right atmosphere when the writing starts to flow from a deeper place. For personal mail. For feeling generous and being on the receiving end of generosity. For a day with no regrets.

I’m thankful for Rembrandt, Elgar’s “Sospiri,” Chopin’s second piano concerto, hybrid cars, term limits on presidents, E.B. White’s prose, rocking chairs, integrity in the pulpit, good news. For a warm autumn with a lovely late rush of color. That suburbs can be sexy. That addictions can be overcome. That fear can be defeated.

And I’m thankful for great stories to tell and people willing to have them told.

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