HARRIS: There’s always something you can put on your thankful list

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ANALYSIS/OPINION

Please forgive the personal nature of this column, while at the same time understanding Thanksgiving is a personal type of holiday. It is a time to give thanks and what we’re thankful for is very much an individual thing.

It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways, for a variety of reasons that don’t need to be mentioned here. The worst on that list is too many friends have died, though I suppose that’s natural as you age. It doesn’t make it any less painful. Just this month, two people close to me have died including my first boss and mentor Jennings Culley.

But if you chip away at the sadness and dust off the gloom, all of us can probably find more reasons to be thankful than we might expect. It is an effort worth making.

Here is my partial list, in no order of importance:

* My old friend and colleague at The Richmond News Leader, Steve Clark, used to do an annual Thanksgiving column that I always enjoyed and always wanted to stea, uh, copy. It only took me 35 years. So we’ll start with that. I’m thankful to Steve for planting the idea.

* I’m thankful I live and work in a great area, for sports and more. Sure, there’s plenty to gripe about around these parts like the traffic that never seems to abate. And teams that seem to struggle when maybe they shouldn’t. But at last count, there were only a dozen cities in the country that had teams in all four major sports leagues and D.C. is one of them. It is a great sports city and the culture goes well beyond athletics. Concerts, plays, museums and more are everywhere. Admit it, you agree. The D.C. metropolitan area is a great place to live.

* I’m thankful for sports, because they’re fun to watch and participate in, and I’m thankful I’ve been able to enjoy a very long career following sports. This business can be frustrating, especially in recent years. It still beats working for a living. I’ve been around the globe to cover events and been to pretty much every major city in the United States, all on someone else’s nickel. It isn’t all fun and games. It’s a lot of fun and games, though, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

* I’m thankful for a great staff. I’d take a bullet for all of them and I suspect (hope?) most would do the same. I’ve been in management for a decade now. I’ve managed staffs at two newspapers and two national websites. Friends in management in this business and others sometimes share horror stories about problems they’ve encountered. I can’t relate. A blip here or there, sure, but nothing that can be blamed for this bald head. I’ve been blessed. The key to good management, I’ve been told, is to surround yourself with good people. On that I give myself an A-plus.

* I’m thankful for coffee. Trite? No question. It’s still on the list. As my doctor tells me to cut out this and cut out that, I’ll oblige. As soon as he says cut out coffee, I’m done.

* I’m thankful for dogs. I’ve been told I like dogs more than people and it is true, though I do like (most) people. My current companion is a five-year-old chocolate Lab named Ella, and she makes me smile at least 30 times a day. The 30 or so minutes we spend playing with her tennis ball every morning, regardless of weather, are my favorite part of every day. Though Monday was awfully cold and Tuesday awfully wet. I would not want to live in a world without dogs.

* Finally, and definitely most important, I’m thankful for family. I’ve got a big one. We’re spread around the country and we’re part Brady Bunch, part Modern Family and maybe a little bit Addams Family. Some I see regularly, some I see rarely. I love them all and know they love me. Every year, as many of us whose schedules permit gather for a Thanksgiving feast that we also turn into an early Christmas celebration. We eat too much, drink (but not too much), laugh and enjoy and then count the days until we can do it again.

* OK, I lied. That wasn’t the last one. As a corollary to the family thing, I’m especially thankful to have been blessed with two brilliant, wonderful children and their significant others I now think of as my own as well. They’re young adults now, one of them busy planning a wedding. But they’ll always be my kids. I don’t know how long I have left or what my legacy will be. If it is them, and I hope it is, I’ve done all right.

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