It's that time of the season again. A wise, old man I knew once advised me to overuse the words "Thank You." I've tried to take that to heart, as much as I possibly can, living my life in such a way that I'm grateful for all I come across, is given to me or that I simply observe. I try to collect these things all year long (and have done so for a few years now), lest I forget them entirely. I wasn't able to stop at 50 things this time around, though, so 69's going to have to do. Think of it as 50 + 19 extra. Happy Thanksgiving, all!
1. Sweet basil.
2. A morning like this one, so quiet, I really can hear my thoughts.
3. Singing frogs outside a back patio, coupled with warm rain.
4. The pleasant distraction of a beautiful woman.
5. The peace that comes from living a TV-less existence.
6. Being directly responsible for making someone’s day.
7. Blessed avocados. Chunky, smooshy sandwich delights.
8. A creative deli owner who makes the best Soup of the Days in all of Lake Mary, FL (seriously … go to That Deli! and be transformed).
9. Living in a neighborhood so safe that I can confidently stash my keys in a bad hiding place before my evening run.
10. Earned exhaustion.
11. Picking an orange or two in an orchard … by moonlight.
12. Being recognized for the strengths I’ve developed and honed.
13. Cold filtered water that never runs out.
14. Feeling like, given the right pen or keyboard, I can write anything.
15. And, because of that, feeling like I can take on the world.
16. An anonymous somebody who left an orange blossom on my desk in the morning, allowing the entirety of my day to smell better.
17. Last minute treks to a warm beach.
18. A $45 motel room after 7 hours in a car.
19. Willie Nelson singing jazz standards (“All of Me,” specifically).
20. A nearby train whistle.
21. Wry old ladies.
22. Listening to my iPod right up until the battery runs out. It’s akin to wringing out a dishrag, really.
23. The White House Special at White House Subs in Atlantic City. And the fact it’s the size of my arm. This is not an exaggeration.
24. Unexpected tears.
25. My little brother.
26. Sweet blessed humidity, the kind disguising itself as a wall.
28. Being able to both smell and feel the rain from nine stories up.
29. Silent lightning that stretches the length of my night sky.
30. The kindness of a stranger.
31. Matching memories with familiar photographs.
32. Creating new memories to go with just discovered photographs.
33. The good poetry.
34. Having a conversation with my excited two-year-old niece … even if she does come with subtitles (thanks, mom).
35. Fresh squeezed Florida orange juice. It tastes different, it does. And that difference is warm divinity.
36. One-time endings that become re-beginnings.
37. Beautifully crunchy 22-year-olds. Or, yeah, make that singular.
39. The quietest moments in my life being the 10 minutes before 5 a.m.
40. Accidentally making friends with and, in turn, being accepted by, a child.
41. The calm of the beach and how its ocean causes my spirit to absolutely soar.
42. Stevie Wonder.
43. The ability to, on occasion, recognize when a friend truly reveals he or she is genuine.
44. Earlyish morning phone calls that develop into fits of unexpected laughter.
45. The quiet holidays.
46. Happiness is a Leon Redbone song.
47. A one-man Farmer’s Market stand, an open truck and a friendly farmer who voluntarily cuts juicy chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit and more for his three wide-eyed customers, simply because he’s that proud of all he’s grown and cultivated and has on display. Show ‘n Tell becomes Taste ‘n Grin.
48. Ukelele music. As well as those who can pronounce the instrument correctly.
49. Raw and unfiltered orange blossom Florida honey. Yes, please, and every day.
50. Getting to spend a lot of good years with Max the Cat, a friend to all.
51. Manatees, those gentle giants.
52. Those I’m able to learn from, as well as those I enjoy and, on the rare occasion, having those qualities both reflected in the same person.
53. The rare ability I have to believe in myself. How it surprises.
54. Being able to run. Whether it’s two miles or a half marathon.
55. Mango salad, which consists of nothing but sweet, cut-up mangoes in a bowl, freshly cut from a big, beautiful, gift-giving tree. Thinking about it the next day, on the other hand, is almost heartbreaking.
56. A seventysomethinged Cuban couple who knows how to cook and likes nothing more than to share.
57. Ethiopian eats. For their flavors, for their smiles, for the communal experience of never using utensils during the course of a meal.
58. Crossed paths, nearly 20 years later, that lead to friendship.
59. Two good knees. While the rest of me seems to age and sag and go white and gray, these allow me to keep on running.
60. Those who know more than I do, but don’t go about flaunting it. The humble are wise, kind sorts. I can’t help but adhere to them.
61. Friends who train with you for three months so you can run 13ish miles together.
62. Beyond that? A friend who flies a couple thousand miles to do so.
63. Planning one pretty elaborate surprise visit and imagining the surprise on the faces of those I love. Never ever underestimate the simple beauty of a good surprise.
64. Being able to hide my old man hair with do-it-yourself coloring kits from Walgreens. But only on the beard. That stuff around the temples is sexy.
65. Happening on a beach in the rain and being able to enjoy it, along with the birds.
66. Selling a condo, a whole decade later.
67. And, tied to that, paying off three credit cards. On the same day.
68. Bare feet and flipflops and blessed heat in the month of November.
69. Being able to work for a company allowing me to spend a day serving Thanksgiving meals to the homeless in my city.