With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, I’m thinking about all the things I’m thankful for. 

Certainly there’s my sweet family, close friends, great church, overall good health, and material possessions - the things a lot of us can list but sometimes take for granted. 

But then I started giving deeper thought to other things that really helped shape my life. 

I had parents that loved me unconditionally.  Being a strong-willed child, I had my times with both my mom and dad, but I never doubted their love for me. My dad taught me discipline, frugality and the importance of honesty, punctuality and dependability. 

My mom fostered the experience and desire to travel the world, and the appreciation of cultural things. She signed me up for ballroom dance lessons when I was in the 5th grade, much to my protestation, and it was one of the best things I ever did! 

Most importantly, she planted the seeds of spiritual awakening deep in my heart that lay dormant for years until early adulthood. There were hard lessons early on that still affect my life today and I’m thankful, like the time I was passenger in a car accident that took the life of an innocent little baby when I was in the 8th grade. Because of that, I’ve been a defensive driver all my life and I know other accidents were avoided because of that experience. 

I had teachers and coaches who took a personal interest in me and helped guide me into areas of lifetime fulfillment and enjoyment.  What’s especially fulfilling is, when as an adult,  going back to those I could and thanking them for the positive influence they were in my life. 

I had wonderful pets growing up: Tiger my cat, Billy my parakeet, and the best of all, Trina my poodle. She was my friend no matter what.

Back in 1972, when I was down in college in Austin, I became acquainted with a distant cousin Donna and her husband Jim. Little did I know that dinner with them and the conversation that followed would be a turning point in my life and helped set me on the direction I’d be headed the rest of my days. 

Jim was bold enough to challenge me to reassess my life from a spiritual perspective in a way I hadn’t known before. Too proud to admit it at the time, it did not take long for those seeds planted so long ago by my mom to come to fruition. 

How thankful I am for Jim and Donna’s witness to me and how my life is different because of that divine appointment.   

Despite all the current political turmoil and harsh rhetoric heard constantly on the airwaves, I am still thankful to live in the United States. I know and acknowledge we have deep divisions along racial/political/social issues facing this country. There are big things our country and government needs to acknowledge, address, change and correct. We have national scars and wounds from edicts, policies and mandates that were put in place by government from way back that haunt us to this day.  

That being said, do you know of another country in all of history that has done more good for more people of the world than the United States of America?  In terms of standing, fighting, and sacrificing for freedom, justice and Equality for our own country and and nations around the world, there is no equal.

Not perfect all the time, the US seeks peace and goodwill for all peace-loving people. We are the most generous country on the face of the earth. I’m thankful to live in a country that gives to those in need. 

Just think, by being an American, you can go anywhere you want, live in any town you want, and be what you want to be. 

I’m grateful for that. So as we celebrate a truly unique American holiday next week, I don’t know about you, but I am going to thank God I live in the USA.  

As my mother used to sing to me as a child growing up, “Count your blessings ... name them one by one...”  

I’m just beginning.

Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at chn345@usa.com.