Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and that I am

A few months ago one evening, both my wife and I got home at almost the same time, 7 p.m. We had started our day more than 12 hours earlier.

“Dan,” Patty asked, “if I call in some dinner down at Grasshopper Grill will you go pick it up?”

It’s a five-minute drive from our house. No problem.

While waiting to pick up our order, I surely must have cast a vision of a weary soul as the Grill’s proprietor, Andre Caron, asked me what was the matter; why’d I look so beat up.

After giving her my best “Poor Dan” story, Andre’s reply was short, direct, blunt and to-the-point. Just the kick in the pants I needed: “I don’t feel sorry for you,” she said. “Most of the guys I talk to who are sitting on that bar stool are complaining that they can’t find any work.”

She’s right, who am I to complain? I have plenty to be thankful for, and since it’s Thanksgiving, that’s just what I’m going to do.

I’m thankful:

• That I do have a job, with a mighty fine employer if I do say so myself.

• That I love this work, especially in this new era of online journalism. I love the immediacy of it, the interactivity with the audience, the abundance of photographs we can share with you in our photo galleries and the new tool of video story-telling.

• That I have friends like Bill Voss, Ken Kamps, John Mahon; guys who will tell me truths about myself that I’d just as soon not hear, but I’m still better off hearing it.

• For the wonderful camaraderie that exists at the Monday night open mics at La Bella Café in Old Town Cottonwood. Mark, Nicky, Gary, Ken and the whole gang at La Bella: I love sharing songs with you and it’s a joy to listen to you. Thanks especially to Don Whitcher for all your words of encouragement and support. And here is a tip for the rest of you: Come by the La Bella on a Monday night if for no other reason than to hear Don Whitcher play and sing. William Eaton is right, Don is the best-kept musical secret in Cottonwood. An incredible talent.

• For being a member of a church that believes bigger is not better and puts it into practice through small-body care groups and Bible studies.

• To William and Christine Eaton for bringing the Old Town Center for the Arts to Cottonwood. Thank you for your commitment to stay with it over the long haul. Keep doing the right thing for the right reasons and the community eventually will reward you for it.

• To all the hard-working folks at Verde Valley Theatre: Robyn Prudhomme-Bauer, Donna Oliver, Alyssa Majewski, Michelle Lambeau, James Ball, Craig Hartley, Guy Darland and all the rest of the fine people who bring such excellent community theater to the Verde Valley. As is the case with the Eatons, this recession has not been kind to the arts. Don’t give up. Keep the faith. You guys are great. Break a leg.

• To Tim Freriks for that magic April night in Arcadia, Calif., last spring. Too few people in the Verde Valley realize or understand the magnitude of what you accomplished that night. I do. It was beyond remarkable. I sent the video link to one of my old NAU running partners who now lives in Page. He sent me an e-mail back saying watching you in that race brought tears to his eyes. It was a legendary performance.

• To Janet Perry, Jodie Filardo, David Keeber, Gioia Goodrum, Matthew J. Morris, Kyla Allen, Deb Bentlage, Mark Tufte, Andy Dickey, Alexandra Helm-Correa, Mary Jo Magaw, Christian Oliva del Rio and all the fine folks associated with Verde Valley Leadership. You are doing a wonderful thing for the Verde Valley in teaching and developing future leaders for our community through the principles of servant leadership … and not teaching top-down management.

• For my barber, Margie Austin, who not only gives a great haircut but also listens and shares about the joys and travails of parenting. You’ve been a big help. Thank you for your friendship.

• For Bill and Missy Murray at the Verde Lea Market. Thank you for making sure I get a complete and full sampling of each of the five major food groups every day. No. 1 burrito. Hot. To go.

• For my wife, children and mom. I love you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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