Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Tis the season in the U.S. of A. when we take a day to honor the turkey, gather with our families and, in most cases, spend most of the day eating and watching football. In my family, we also try to take a moment to offer up our thanks for all the blessings we've received in the past year, so I thought I'd share the Top 10 things I'm thankful for as 2011 comes to a close.

1. My children. They are teenagers, so they often drive me crazy, but I wouldn't trade them for any other crazy teenagers, unless, of course, the circus came a'calling and offered the right price. Seriously, I'm abundantly grateful for their good health, good (and often inappropriate) humor, relatively good grades and positive outlook on life. They are a joy to live with and a constant source of amusement with a healthy dose of consternation thrown in to keep things real. I repeat: they are teenagers, so they can't help it. And even though the teenage years are rife with challenges, I much prefer them to the baby years. I genuinely like my kids and the people they are becoming.

2. My husband. Yes, I call him The Turnip for a variety of well-earned reasons, but he showed his true stripes this year, handling my health crisis with equal parts humor and determination to get us all through it. I appreciate that he's always where he says he's going to be and never gives me a reason to wonder what he's up to. He's true blue all the way, and I am lucky to have him. (Just don't tell him I said any of that or he will be unlivable.)

3. My dad. At 77, he is going strong, enjoying good health and keeping me entertained. He is one of my best "girlfriends," and I'm very thankful to have him here to laugh at me as I navigate the teenage years with my kids. I'm also thankful for his lovely boat, which is one of my summer happy places. He enjoys every minute he spends with my kids, and they appreciate the time they have with their only remaining grandparent. He is very much their "third" parent. I'm also grateful that he will be over later to take care of getting the turkey ready. Since the process gives me the dry heaves, I am appreciative of his assistance (which is largely self-serving because he is VERY fond of turkey).

4. My health. You all know I had some health challenges this year that led to surgery, which fixed the problem once and for all. I'm feeling a thousand times better than I have in a LONG time, and I'm grateful it wasn't something more serious. It was treatable and fixable, and the entire ordeal made me thankful for the good health we often take for granted.

5. My dog. My dear sweet Brandy brings me joy every single day as my steadfast work-at-home companion. Whether we are chasing her down to retrieve a pair of socks or trying to coax her off the beach by pretending we're going to leave without her, there is never a dull moment with the Brandana around. I'm grateful that this year she realized we like to READ the newspaper, so it's better if she doesn't shred it for us every day. She sleeps right smack between us every night, and we wouldn't have it any other way. I also love how much joy she brings my dad, who is her biggest fan. Tomorrow they will carve the turkey "together." My favorite Brandy moment of 2011 was when my boss and his wife were here for dinner and he made the mistake of lowering his hand when he was holding a potato chip. GONE. "That," he said with typical good humor, "was unexpected." We still giggle about that months later!

6. My extended family. My brother, my niece, my nephew, my aunts, uncles and the gaggle of cousins who are more like siblings than cousins, I'm grateful for every one of you. We recently celebrated my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary and had most of the large family in attendance. Many of them will be at my house tomorrow night, since we still spend holidays together even in our late 30s and 40s. I wouldn't have it any other way.

7. My friends. Whether you are near or far, whether I've met you in person or online, you know who you are and you know what you mean to me. I found out how many friends I have when I was sick, and each of you means the world to me.

8. My readers. I am one extremely lucky author to have such a loyal, dedicated group of readers. I've had an incredible year with my books, and I'm thankful to everyone who bought one or more of my books. The lovely reviews, emails and postings make me smile, and I treasure every one of them. As long as you all keep reading, I will keep writing!

9. My characters. Sam, Nick, Mac, Maddie, Joe, Janey, Luke, Sydney, Jack, Andi: thank you all for appearing in my imagination, becoming real people to me and real people to my readers. I don't know where this stuff comes from, but I'm not asking any questions. I'd appreciate it if the characters and stories could keep on coming so I can keep on doing what I most love to do. In 2012, we'll be hearing from Grant, Evan, Adam, Tiffany, and of course, more from Sam, Nick and the gang!

10. The Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the brilliant people who invented these life-changing devices and to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple and all the retailers who've made it possible for authors to take their stories direct to readers. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunities I've been afforded this year, and look forward to growing my business further in 2012 when I will become a full-time writer.

Bonus: Oreos. Need I explain?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Now tell me what you are most thankful for this year!