Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:03PM - 451 Views

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When I was in my mid-teens, a particularly zealous cousin joined the family for Thanksgiving dinner.

My father had raised up the holiday prayer and we were all greedily set to attack the buffet when the cousin in question hollered out that we were to sit back down and take some time to contemplate the meaning of the day.

One at a time, each family member was forced to pluck a kernel of corn from a ceramic plate and declare what it was they were thankful for. We each sputtered our awkward thanks for family and friends and the grace of God while the turkey and starch sundries wilted with age.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful that no one will be making me do that again.

It’s not that I don’t embrace the purpose of this special day. I spend most days thankful and amazed by my own good fortune. I am, after all, a man of marginal intellect and charm and no discernable vocational skills who has been blessed with work I enjoy, a few really trustworthy friends, a beautiful and tolerant wife and two healthy, bright daughters. I have a solid home in a good neighborhood, two cars in the driveway, a couple of loyal if useless dogs, and at least two pair of comfortable pants with no rips or paint stains. Declare bacon a health food, and my life is pretty much perfect.

Still, I am much more comfortable making my declarations of thanks in writing, where I have ample time to self-edit and less risk of salmonella from a turkey that’s been forced to cool off through 30 public affirmations. So here is the official list of things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving day. I’ve already mentioned family and friends, these are the ancillary things that make life richer.

•New restaurants — Despite the multitude of questions about the economy, a few brave souls have decided to take a chance and open new businesses. The Fat Cat and The Met offer a quality and atmosphere we desperately need in the downtown. On Spencerville Road, Mara’s Gourmet and J’s Shawnee give us new options on the west side. Add them to an existing lineup that includes LuLu’s, Fat Jack’s, and Vino Bellissimo, which just relocated to new digs in the DeHaven’s property, and Spencerville Road is the newest, hippest food and drink sector in the region.

•Small business in general — With Saturday being Small Business Saturday, it’s a good time to remind you that our small businesses are the heart of this community. Not only do they create jobs and add to quality of life, they are the overwhelming leader when it comes to donating to local nonprofits. Whether it’s sponsoring a local concert or donating items for fundraising raffles, the local business is the first one hit up when we need help. Let’s remember to make them our first stop when we need what they are selling too.

•Elm Street is finally open.

•Kindle — I know the preceding rant suggests I should be buying books at a locally owned store. Sadly, that is all but impossible. I am slow to embrace technology, but the instant gratification that comes from loading up a new book with a simple click is too great to resist.

•Rays has sushi.

•Local music — Between the various festivals and concerts bringing in national and regional acts and a new generation of bar owners supporting local bands, the opportunities to hear live music are better today than I can ever recall. I only wish I could manage to stay up late enough to hear it all.

•Movies by Will Farrell, including, but in no way limited to, “Talladega Nights,” “Anchorman” and “Elf.”

•Thanksgiving — Yes, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. Who isn’t. No work, massive platefuls of food and professional football. Add a Will Farrell movie and a little Rays sushi and you’ve got a near perfect day. At the very least, a day to be thankful for.

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