By Joe Rector

Yes, it’s Thanksgiving time again. The world has spun around the sun and brought us once again to a day during which we count our blessings. We are supposed to pause for a moment to reflect upon the things for which we are grateful. This year, however, I’ve decided to list what I’m thankful NOT to have.

First off, I am immensely thankful that I no longer have the presidential election with which to keep up. You see, I’m a political junkie, and for the past two years I’ve had a daily fix of the lead stories from both sides. I rise early to view the latest news on “Good Morning Joe” and CNN. Now the election has been held, and a selection has been made. I’m now free to turn my attention and concern to much more important things, such as spending time with my wife, catching up on my reading, or raking and mowing mountains of fallen leaves.

Along the same lines, I’m thankful that I don’t have to run this country. Why anyone would want to be the President of the United States is beyond me. The decisions to be made come in waves each and every day. It’s a job where the person is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t take a certain action. I have enough difficulty taking care of my life; being responsible for the well-being of millions more is too much. Look at presidents when they take office and then leave it. In a short time, they’ve aged far too quickly. Besides, the pay scale for the job isn’t that grand.

I am thankful not to have to worry about my children’s education. Lacey and Dallas have graduated from college and are established in their careers. I am glad that they aren’t part of the public school system as it exists these days. The pressure on students to excel and make all A’s is so intense. Many young people suffer from anxiety and depression over school and future admissions to colleges. They also fret over the escalating cost of higher education and the mountains of debt with which they might graduate. My children worked to help with college expenses, and Amy and I paid for their studies toward a Bachelor’s degree. I’m not sure we could do that today.

I am also glad that I do not teach in today’s schools. I now substitute for teachers in high schools, and my sympathies are with them. The demands on them to meet each item on an evaluator’s checklist many times keep them from being effective teachers. Sure, some teachers play the game, and then teach what they know students need. I would never achieve a passing evaluation grade these days.

I’m thankful that I no longer must work every day. At this point in life, I choose when I want to substitute. Most of the time, three days a week is plenty. The rest of the week is mine to complete “honey-do’s” and other jobs around the house or on my computer. My stamina isn’t enough so that I can put in a full work week, and I’m glad not to have to.

I am thankful not to have any serious health condition. Friends are now facing difficult times as they battle illness. Some family members slowly drift away from us as Alzheimer’s takes them over. My life is filled with aches and pains in joints and muscles. I don’t enjoy dealing with them, but they do serve as a reminder that I’m still alive and kicking, even if my pace is somewhat slower.

Last of all, I am thankful that I don’t have hundreds of thousands of words trapped on the computer’s hard drive. The Knoxville Focus has for several years allowed me to publish my thoughts and opinions and recollections and to share them with folks. Whether or not readers agree with me, I love to write and have them react. Writing is a supreme gift from God, and I am blessed to be able to have a forum for presenting them to the public.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family and good food. Give thanks for your what you have and don’t have. Blessings are bountiful in both areas.