By Joe Rector

Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is still three more days away, but I wanted to get a jump on it and make my list of all the things for which I am thankful and for the blessings poured out to me.

I’m thankful for the job I have. The previous one that I had for 1 ½ years gave me the opportunity to make friends that I think about almost every day. My new job is ripe with the same opportunities, and I have already developed good relationships with at least some of my new cohorts. Best of all, I’m back with one of my two best friends. Billy Hayes is the person in charge of the department and the one who asked me if I’d like to work there. Billy and I coached our sons in baseball for years; only the two boys growing up and going their ways stopped the meetings under my carport after most ball games.  A bonus to this new job is that Billy’s son William runs another department, so I see him regularly as well.

I’m blessed beyond words with a wonderful family. My two children are grown now; they’ve built lives that seem to bring them happiness. A grandson who has been a marvel every day is another blessing. However, family doesn’t stop there. My twin brother Jim and his family live close by, and the two of us manage to stay in touch and spend time completing projects or swatting at golf balls. My late older brother’s wife lives in Nashville, and although we don’t stay in touch as often as we should, our love for each other spans fifty years. How wonderful it is that so many folks are a part of my life and mean so much.

I’m also thankful for a group of writers with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years. Lucy, Mary Anne, and Bob were classmates in a writing class taught by Don Williams. We read our prose and poetry each week in that setting and then moved to a restaurant off the Strip to share more personal parts of our lives. I know that they encouraged me to keep writing when all those rejection letters came in the mail. For their support and friendship, I am grateful.

Most of all, I am blessed to have shared the largest part of my life with Amy. I still don’t know how I was lucky enough to win her affections; I’m thankful that she did say “yes.” Over the years we’ve shared plenty of events that have made this life full and rich and good. A couple of years ago, the acts of some people left us on the outside looking in. Amy lost her job, I went to work part time, and Amy found a new job. Over this time, we have grown closer, more so than I could ever imagine. I’m thankful each day for home and for spending evenings with my girlfriend.

Last, but in no way last, I am thankful for The Knoxville Focus. The paper is the first place that accepted my musings. Charmin Foth  and Steve Hunley gave me a chance to ramble about all sorts of topics. Now, Marianne Dedmon and Rose King take my pieces and somehow find places for them in the paper. I dare say no one is luckier or more blessed to have been associated with such kind folks.

Along with the paper, I am forever indebted to those people who take time in their busy lives to read my weekly take on things. I’m flattered that you do so. I fully believe that God has given the ability to write, no matter how good or bad it is, and it’s been up to me to develop it. I know that in some small way I have done so when you read and comment. Thank you! You’re the best!

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving. No, you don’t have to post the things for which you are grateful on some social media website. However, take a couple of minutes to think about the good things in your life, and then utter a “thank-you” to the creator who from whom all things flow.