Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because of oyster stuffing, although that is a pretty big deal.
What I like best about this holiday is that it forces me to stop and think about the many things for which I am thankful.
Most of the year, we tend to focus on problems rather than blessings. We think about what has gone wrong, not right. That is human nature, but it can keep us from taking the time to appreciate the many things that make life worth living.
I am especially thankful this year for my family, after having lost my father and my mother-in-law last December. Some of my best times this year have been traveling with my wife, playing with my 3-year-old grandson, spending time with my smart, successful daughters and son-in-law and visiting with my mother each Sunday afternoon.
I am thankful to be healthy, to have a lot of friends, to live in a comfortable house in a great neighborhood filled with nice people. Each time I bicycle along a country road or hike near the Kentucky River Palisades, I am thankful to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
A longtime friend and colleague reminded me in an email last week that I have “the best job in Kentucky journalism.” That’s true, and I never want to take it for granted. After all, I spend most of my work time going interesting places, meet interesting people and doing interesting things so I can tell you about them.
As a columnist, I also have the freedom and responsibility to comment on current events, knowing that some of you will like what I have to say and others will not. And that’s okay.
My friend’s email prompted me to look back on my work over the past year. Most of it was not commentary, but feature stories highlighting people, places and events that make Central Kentucky a great place to live.
I am always thankful to get to cover the annual circus known as the Kentucky Derby. Breeders’ Cup this year was an additional treat.
My favorite Breeders’ Cup memory will be meeting the Mongolian moguls, two brothers who showed up in traditional costumes with a winning horse. Watching the crowd at Keeneland enthusiastically embrace them was something to behold.
As someone who has always been fascinated by Kentucky history and architecture, I rarely miss an opportunity to explore wonderful, old buildings. Among my favorites this year were Chaumiere des Prairies in Jessamine County, the “paradise lost” showplace of early Kentucky, and Buknore in Bourbon County, architect Matthew Kennedy’s 1841 masterpiece, which wins my prize as Kentucky’s most spectacular house.
I enjoyed spending an evening with Transylvania University biologist Josh Adkins and his students as they used high-tech tools to search for bats on campus. And I loved exploring a long-abandoned grist mill in Madison County with archaeologist Nancy O’Malley and mill enthusiasts Jerry Nichols and Larry Hackley.
I watched the amazing Portuguese muralist Sergio Odieth draw a huge Louis Armstrong on an East End building freehand. I profiled the delightful Elliott County folk artist Minnie Adkins. I spent an afternoon with gemstone enthusiasts, hunting for agate in an Estill County creek . And I walked part of historic Boone’s Trace with backpackers Curtis Penix and Givan Fox.
I profiled a diverse group of entrepreneurs, from fashionistas Betty Spain and Karl Meyers to hands-on science educators Bill and Dawn Cloyd of Newton’s Attic.
I seem to gravitate toward food entrepreneurs, such as Mary Lou Rankin, the fried apple pie queen of Millersburg: pasta king Lesme Romero; Greek chef Ilias Pappas; and fine food ambassadors Andrea Sims and Krim Boughalem.
I have a special appreciation for social entrepreneurs — people such as Debra Hensley, Yvette Hurt, Rebecca Self, Ginny Ramsey, Ryan Koch and many others — who work hard for little tangible reward to make their community a better place for everyone.
I am thankful for the ability to tell you about people, take you places and expose you to ideas you might not otherwise know about.
Monday morning will come soon enough. But for the rest of this week, I plan to savor these thoughts about thankfulness, along with plenty of oyster stuffing.