Once every seven years or so, my birthday falls on the day before Thanksgiving. That means I get to celebrate the most selfish holiday of the year — today, MY day — with the most unselfish holiday – tomorrow, Thanksgiving.
It's a good reminder of why so many people declare Thanksgiving to be their favorite holiday. It's not about me or you or Jesus or Santa or the Easter bunny. Thanksgiving is about us.
"Us" can be a couple of friends sharing a meal at KFC. It can be a room full of strangers at the soup kitchen. It can be an extended family around a dining room table groaning under the weight of way too much food.
The point is not to celebrate the gifts we are getting; it's to celebrate the gifts that we have. So, on the occasion of my birthday, I'd like to write the corniest of columns: a list of the things I will give thanks for tomorrow, my 58th Thanksgiving Day.
; Another trip around the sun. It seems so simple; after all, the only thing you need to do is keep breathing. But not everyone does, and keeping that in mind makes me appreciate each day even more.
; The health to enjoy it. It's got to be good genes, because it's certainly not clean living. I am grateful for the heart and lungs and legs and energy that keep me outside, upright and in motion every day.
; Family. My sister Sheilah moved to Santa Rosa this year, making this the first time in 40 years that I have lived in the same town as one of my siblings. I got to spend time in September with my other sister, my older brother and sister-in-law, and this week my younger brother and his wife (and two dogs) are visiting. These occasions together result in loud, messy dinners, minor disagreements, funny stories, sad memories and much love.
; More family. I won't see any of my four kids today, but three of them will be part of the day tomorrow. I'm not just overflowing with thanks but also gushing with pride about the way these cute little babies have become responsible adults. And the best part is, despite whatever they were thinking during their teen-age years, they seem to actually LIKE me now. Wonders never cease.
; Friends. Old ones, new ones, close ones, far ones. Whether I see you several times a week or several times a year or hardly ever, I want you to know, friend, that you sustain me, entertain me, challenge me, enrich me and make me look forward to every day.
; Community. I moved around a lot when I was growing up (or, I should say, my military dad moved around a lot — I just followed). When I moved to Santa Rosa I planned to stay a few years, then move on. But life happened. A few years turned into 32, and today I feel rooted to this community, with connections deep and wide. Santa Rosa has more than doubled in population since I came here, but it still feels like a small town, and I'm grateful to be a small part of it.
; I could go on and on. I'm grateful for the rain and the sun, the farms and the vineyards, November tomatoes still on the vine, the golden hills darkening to winter green. I'm grateful for a roof over my head, an income to support my habits, a continuing curiosity about the world and its denizens. I am grateful for just about everything I touch, and that touches me. I am grateful for you, even when you post nasty comments at the end of this.