November 28, 2013

Mark Millican: Thankful? Yes!

— A case could be made Thanksgiving has become just another day on the sales calendar, a prelude to Christmas signaling ’tis the season to buy, buy, buy. So in today’s “get all you can while the getting’s good,” i.e., materialistic culture, are there still things we can be thankful for in the modern landscape?

I daresay, yes! And it didn’t take long to put together my own list.

• Being able to live in the mountains, ridges and valleys of north Georgia. Also, being able to drive to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf Coast or Washington, D.C., in just one day. Or even to the southernmost part of the U.S. at Key West to watch a sunset (if one starts early enough).

• That my mother is still alive and continues working for worthy causes with the energy of the bunny with a battery. Mom, you’re an inspiration to me and so many others.

• A staff that has adeptly handled my transition from the “hurry-up” pace of a daily newspaper to the less frenzied tempo of a weekly, mostly by just giving me looks that say, “You can chill out a bit now.”

• Watching the sunrise from Eagle Mountain rec center, knowing that whatever happens that day at least I’ve gotten the exercise part out of the way — unless Teresa wants to walk after work.

• For people in the office I can turn to about technical computer stuff and who can always figure out my quandary that evidently seems simplistic to them.

• That I don’t get as rabid about sports as I used to — although I’m disappointed when Georgia, the Braves or the Falcons lose the big one, it no longer destroys my world for weeks.

• Seeing a concrete truck rolling down the road and remembering I once made a living emptying them to form basements, house floors, driveways, sidewalks, patios and walls ... and being thankful I don’t have to do that anymore.

• For footpaths in the mountains and the curiosity of still wanting to see what’s around the next bend.

• My younger brothers (and their families). If I got in a bad scrape, I know they’d still have my back.

• For yard maintenance. No green thumb here, but mowing grass has always been therapeutic for me. It may sound crazy, but I’ve found when I’m pushing a noisy, smelly Briggs and Stratton-propelled mower and can disengage my mind while simply following the mowing line between cut and uncut grass, I have some of my most spiritual thoughts.

• A wife who is loving and supportive and seems to know exactly when to pat my hand or put her arm around my shoulder when my mood changes or she senses my brow is becoming furrowed.

• For seeing deer every day in Coosawattee River Resort, and every now and then a turkey — and rarely, a bear.

• For an employer who says “Thank you” when handing me my paycheck. I’ve worked many jobs, and found that extremely rare.

• That I live in America and can go to church and not be concerned about authorities busting in and beating us up and taking us to jail. And that I can drive down any road or highway — and even across state lines — without stopping at a checkpoint with barricades and barbed wire and having to show my ID to armed soldiers in order to continue.

• Living in an area that has so many ministries, outreaches and agencies that can reach those who have much less than we do and need help with substance abuse or other obstacles that prevent victorious living.

• My grandsons and their parents, and the privilege and excitement of praying God’s protection and purposes over them.

• Hebrews 13:5, which for a verse I perceive includes a double negative, was a positive influence at the lowest point in my life. And for the Friend I discovered who sticks closer than a brother, and for whom I can be thankful every day — and even through long nights.

Mark Millican is a former Daily Citizen staff writer and is editor of the Times-Courier in Ellijay.