Now that I am a little older and wiser it is time for me to partake not just of turkey and gravy, but also thankfulness. It is very easy to go through youth not thinking of the meaning of the word Thanksgiving. As young ‘uns, the day is about construction paper cutouts of brightly colored turkeys and black and white pilgrims. As teens it is about a four-day weekend from school interrupted by dinners with family members we hate (teenagers hate everything, it’s natural). As young adults, it’s still about a four-day weekend (though journalists are lucky to get one day off) but now it’s about driving to multiple dinners — one with our own family and one with our significant other’s family — followed by insane shopping on Black Friday.
This year, I have Thanksgiving Day off work (cross fingers that no major news breaks that day) and my own family is eight hours away. So, I just have to pick up my girlfriend’s grandparents and bring them to dinner. While I drive to get them or while she cooks (hey, I offer to help but she usually shoos me away) I have some time to think about things for which I am thankful.
As I drive to Dayton later this week, I will be grateful that gas prices are falling, though the cost to fill the tank is still a far cry from where it was when I started driving. I can clearly recall when I would buy 10 gallons for $10, and many of you will remember when it was far cheaper. At the same time, I should be thankful for the ability to drive a reliable car. I can’t count how many times have I heard friends complain about something happening with their car and forking over thousands of dollars to get it fixed. I had one instance when my starter went out and I had to have my car towed to a repair shop. Then after it was fixed the mechanic didn’t properly reconnect the battery and it seemed that the car was dead, but fortunately my mechanically inclined father-in-law saved me from another towing bill. But that was the worst car experience I ever had, and it only cost me about $500. Even my car accident a year ago was easy: I wasn’t hurt and was not without a car for more than a day. The insurance company even gave me enough money to buy another car to replace the paid-off car that was totaled.
There is another thing I have to be thankful for: insurance. I have all kinds of insurance: health, auto, life. When I have a car accident, I’m covered. When I have a toothache, I’m covered (speaking of which, I really need to make an appointment). When I get carpel tunnel from too much typing, I’m covered. Lately I’ve come to appreciate the fact that I can go to the doctor without thinking about what it will cost me. Many, many people don’t have that luxury. Many people have to go through life hoping they don’t get sick or hurt because they can’t afford to get well. It almost makes me feel guilty for being a healthy person (something else to be thankful for) because I hardly ever use my insurance.
Hand in hand with the insurance is my job, another item on the I’m-so-thankful list. Regardless of the condition of the economy, I should be grateful to be gainfully employed in a job I love. Editing a newspaper has been a dream of mine since graduating journalism school 10 years ago. Back then, professors and professionals both said there is no future in journalism, but I have managed to be employed in my chosen field continuously since college. Now, with the turbulent economic times, I have still been fortunate to hold a position important enough to insulate me from layoffs — at least until the whole operation shuts down. As long as the doors are open, the Sparks Tribune will need someone to make sure the product is printed each day, and that person is me. My heart goes out to my friends whose positions at various newspapers are hanging in the balance right now.
Not only am I thankful for my job in northern Nevada, I am thankful to be in northern Nevada. Life can take us lots of places, whether it be for work or school or whatever. For life to bring me to this beautiful area is a real blessing. On one side is nature’s ruggedly beautiful desert and on the other pristine, mountainous forests. The weather is hot, cold and mild at the right times and in the right proportions. And compared to Southern California, the population is just large enough to attract good stores and restaurants and at the same time small enough that they are never too crowded.
Faithful readers know that I went through a divorce this year, which on the surface seems like something to not be thankful for. But I can give thanks for how civil it was and that making the break has given me the chance to move on with life while taking with me all the good things that came out of my eight-year relationship. Truly, I can thank The Ex for lots of good times and, when the good times were over, for working with me to allow us to go our separate ways peacefully.
Last but not least, I am thankful to live in a place that gives me lots of things to be thankful for. By random chance, I was born here in the United States and not someplace where it would be a struggle just to meet basic needs. Here, I have the chance to achieve all the aforementioned things, rather than just fight for my very existence. A photo of an emaciated Haitian child in a news report this week drove home how lucky we are to have a state-sanctioned holiday when we get to sit around and watch football and light scented candles and shoot whipped cream from a can.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go work on things that rhyme with “and all through the house.”
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.