North Korea just sent artillery shells onto a South Korean island and the Transportation and Safety Administration is getting flack for patting down little kids and flight attendants.

Myself? I’m just glad I’m not flying this week or one of the tens of thousands of American troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula.

But if you are reading this and you are: good luck.

A few years back, my little brother started us on going around the table at Thanksgiving and saying what we’re thankful for in the previous year.

I’ve learned that it’s good to be the first person to speak when giving thanks at the table, because you can get away with an easy answer like, “I’m thankful for our children and the fact that they’re healthy.”

While I’m thankful for that, it’s always a nice treat when someone says something more meaningful.

My dad once waxed philosophical about being thankful for the ability to vote and how we have the choice to do so, even though the crop of candidates might not be the best.

Our oldest son once said he was thankful for God, but did it in a way that had half the table blinking away tears when he was finished.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that people are thankful for and they’re not standing around a table full of gluttinous treats and inside a warm home.

Alabama now ranks No. 1 per capita in hunger. While we’re always right behind Mississippi on an obesity list, or the number of trailers per residents, this one is a stark reminder of how far we’ve come as a state.

I’m not in favor of handouts—unless there are mandatory drug tests and term limits implemented for those receiving them.

Why it takes the day when we all gather around to overeat for us to remember there are those who often go without, still amazes me.

But there are many organizations and churches right here in St. Clair who are committed to helping their fellow man, as Jesus taught us to do. And that is something I’m thankful for: those who give selflessly.

I am thankful for other things this year. So, with tongue placed firmly in cheek, I am thankful for:

* Our minivan. After our second child was born, we had to step up to a larger vehicle. Now I am back to driving a vehicle that if I want something from the back, I need only to hit the brakes real hard and hold my right hand between the driver and passenger seats, ‘cause it’s going to roll forward.

* The smiley face system. We came up with this one at my house: Each day our six year old is graded with a smiley face, a frowny face or one with no expression. All smiles mean he gets his full allowance. Punishments have gone down considerably, though the cuss jar continues to fill up.

* The cuss jar. It’s actually a cup, but I’ll be willing to bet I’ll have a month’s worth of tuition by the start of school next year.

* Cam Newton: hands-down the best football player on the college gridiron this year and he plays for my favorite team. Even with the suspicions surrounding him and Mississippi State, it’s made for an interesting year to be an Auburn fan.

* The 2010 Auburn Tiger football team. There are 69 other guys besides Cam on the field, and they’re headed to Atlanta, maybe even the big show if they knock off Bama Friday.

* Facebook. I couldn’t crack jokes with the people I grew up with who are scattered around the South and the world without it. Especially during this year’s election and football seasons.

* A wife who will do laundry. While our oldest son and I have a problem getting dirty clothes into the hamper, she’ll at least wash them—as long as I do the dishes every night. I tried doing laundry for the first time in months a few nights ago. I think I’ll be giving my favorite sweater to our six-year-old for Christmas.

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