Last night the host of a political show on TV read briefly from a book called “14,000 things to be happy about,” by Barbara Ann Kipfer.
I haven’t read the book myself — in fact, I hadn’t heard of it — so I have almost no idea what it actually says.
But this being Thanksgiving week, the title caught my attention. Like lots of people, during this season I like to consider the many things for which I’m thankful. Which is pretty much the same as saying, the things I’m happy about.
So, here goes, in no order. Forty things I’m thankful for:
Jellied cranberry sauce.
Long drives in the country on sunny fall days. Or sunny winter days. Or any days, even the rainy or snowy ones.
My son and daughter-in-law.
My grandkids, the 5Hs.
The members of my church, who aren’t just parishioners but friends and family.
Steaming, dark coffee — and lots of it. Even decaf.
A reliable car.
The First Amendment.
That I don’t own any apartments anymore. God liberated me from that curse, praise his holy name.
The modern medications without which I would have been dead or crippled by now.
Health insurance. (See the item above.)
The church member who made me a pumpkin roll of my very own. (See the last two items above.)
A house that’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
A society that’s stable enough that I don’t have to fear every time I leave my house.
Public schools for my grandkids.
More good books than I can ever actually read. As the saying goes, so many books, so little time.
Podcasts. Gosh, I love them. I can listen to anything I want to hear, whenever I want to hear it, from anywhere I happen to be.
Netflix and Amazon Prime, where I can watch anything I want to watch, whenever I choose to watch it.
Digitalized newspapers. Even out here in the boonies, I can read national publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post every day, something I couldn’t so when newspapers only existed on paper.
Preserved Civil War battlefields to visit. So many battlefields, so little time.
Weeks at the beach with my family, especially the grandkids.
The New Testament.
Turner Classic Movies, and old black-and-white movies generally.
The loving parents and grandparents I was given, who have since gone on to their glory.
Still having enough hair that I can comb it, more or less.
This year’s University of Kentucky football team. Snell, yeah!
In a pinch, Canadian football. Heck, any football.
People who are compassionate.
People who are open-minded.
People who’ve learned critical-thinking skills.
People who are self-aware.
My wife’s stupid cats, which make me grin even though I don’t like cats — and they don’t like me.
The rare luck of having been able to earn my living doing what I enjoy.
Finally, here’s an idea my wife Liz suggested for helping others experience happiness.
We’re often diligent to thank certain categories of workers for their valuable service: veterans, teachers, police officers, firefighters. And we should. They deserve praise.
But what about those who render other kinds of service, who go above and beyond to make our path easier and less stressful — even as their path, especially during the holidays, may be frantic and nerve-wracking?
How about that server at a crowded restaurant who’s especially courteous even after your 3-year-old dumps spaghetti on the floor? How about that airline clerk who, despite the howling masses of tired travelers abusing her, patiently helps you find an alternate flight? How about the department store clerk who runs a gauntlet to the stock room because she remembers where there might be one sweater left in your daughter’s size?
Why not say, “Thank you so very much. You’re a hero! Merry Christmas!” Why not write a letter to that person’s manager, pointing out his or her fine work?
Don’t just be thankful in your heart, but spread your thanks around. Share the happiness.