By Joe Rector

A week after this is published, we’ll be gluttonously full of turkey, dressing, and all the other Thanksgiving foods. Some, thankful that they managed not to fall asleep at the wheel, will have made the long trip home. Hosts will spend the week cleaning the mess that always comes with a holiday and a house filled with company. These things are holiday traditions.

I’m thankful for all the usual things on the special day, and I also am grateful for some other not-so-often-mentioned things. First, I say a prayer of thanks for retirement. In this day and time, I wouldn’t last a year as a teacher. Not having to teach this curriculum that systems push is a reason to give thanks. Neither could I handle some of the attitudes of students and parents. I’m old school. In my years of teaching, I listened to what the bosses wanted, but then I closed the door of my classroom and gave students what they needed to survive in the world.

Another wonderful thing about retirement is being able to stay up as late as I want. I’ve always been a night owl, but work hours always pushed me to bed early. Now I can watch television all night or read a book that’s captured my interest. My television airs shows all night, unlike my younger years when the TV set had three channels that all were off by midnight.

I have an unbounded appreciation for Thanksgiving Day because it gives us a rest from all the commotion that is swallowing the country right now. The news stations will take a break as second-string hosts present “cute” stories during their airtime. Politicians head home and spend little time arguing about every idea that either party brings to the table. We won’t be bombarded about trials, and hearings, and bills. Instead, we’ll watch parades, watch ball games, eat too much, and fall asleep in lounge chairs.

I love my family and am blessed more than I deserve that they are in my life. At the same time, I am thankful for the friends in my life. There aren’t many; I’m not necessarily an easy person to like or with whom to share a friendship. I’m glad at least a few people can overlook my shortcomings enough to spend time with me. Some of these people are friends from high school; some are from work. I’d like to say some are from college, but I did little socializing during those years because I had to study to pass classes.

Covid hit my daughter’s office last week, so right now, we don’t know if she and her family will be able to come to Knoxville. Folks, the virus is still skulking around this country, and it kills more than 1,000 Americans each day. We have much for which to give thanks, but we must be aware that the monster still waits for the chance to attack those who haven’t taken steps. Make sure you’re vaccinated before gathering with friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Try to shake off any ill feelings that you harbor toward others. Remember that this country is still a fantastic place. In fact, it is the best place on the planet. You might bow your heads and give thanks for all we have and the diversity we experience in races, religions, and political views. You see, we are all Americans.