Many of you may know that I’m no fan of Thanksgiving. I don’t like the food. I don’t like the forced togetherness. I don’t like concept that we should be thankful one particular day of the year. After all, what about the other 364 days?

We used to do a “thankful tree” in the Leffler house. Each day from November 1 until Thanksgiving, we’d each write something we were thankful for on a leaf and tape it to the fridge. It was a good way to remember to be thankful on more than just one day. And it reminded us that we really did have things to be thankful for.

Items included people, places we had gone to, things we had done, scenery we had seen, and anything that had made us happy, even if only for a smidgen of time.

I don’t think I could do a thankful tree this year. True, 2009 has not been particular kind to this scribe. But it’s not that I have nothing to be thankful for. Not by a long shot. It’s that I’ve got so much to be thankful for, I’d have to do a “thankful forest.”

I have neither the time, nor the resources to do a thankful forest. So a thankful column will have to suffice.

I’m thankful for the people that have been in my life since my birth. My family. They’ve always stood by my side through each decision, right or wrong. Sometimes holding my hand. And sometimes kicking me in the rear. But one way or another, they’ve been there. And I thank them for that.
Particular thanks to my mom, who has been there to pick up the pieces on several occasions this year alone.

I’m thankful for the people I met in my youth, who in many ways helped to mold and shape me into the person I am today. I’ve reconnected recently with many people I had first met at the age of four, starting kindergarten. Truly life-long friends … even if there was a 15 year gap in the middle.

I’m thankful for many people I met in college, who – fortunately – keep the same awkward hours I do, always there eagerly awaiting my tales of that days victories. And on the days when the victories are outnumbered by the defeats, they remind me that the sun will rise soon and a new day will begin.

I’m particularly thankful for one friend from college, my best friend for the last 15 years. This has been a trying year for her as well, and yet she always seems to be willing to listen to my sorry tales and offer me the best advice she can give. I couldn’t have blamed her had she disappeared this year, but she’s still there every time I call. Every time I drop by. Moved on? Yes. Disappeared? No. I’m thankful I didn’t lose that friendship.

I’m thankful for my children, who mean the world to me. They remind me that I was young once. And others have been my age before. They have their own trials and tribulations, similar to those I had at their ages. I thought then that I’d never get over the heartbreak of losing a friend or a loved one. But I did. And it reminds me that no loss is insurmountable. Even if you believe it is at the time.

I’m thankful for those who have come into my life recently. Or have had their roles in my life change recently. They’ve been bright spots in my life and I welcome the light. I’m particularly thankful for one friend who has been the central character in my life for the majority of this year. She’s made me weep deeply. And smile broadly. But the highest highs were worth the lowest lows.

And I’m thankful for all the support and love I’ve received from people I barely know. It truly touches my heart to be looked-in on by people who’s birthdays I don’t know. Some of them, I don’t know their ages. Some, I don’t even know their names. And I was important enough to them at some point or another this year for them to call or write and ask how I was doing.

If you want to know how I’m doing, I’ll tell you. I’m doing well … thanks to you.

This Thursday as you sit down for dinner with your friends, family, loved ones, or complete strangers, remember what you truly have to be thankful for. Someone loves you. And if no one else does, I do.

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