Today, on Thanksgiving day, I’m thankful for:
• The elections are over. Now go away.
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• The Bobcats are better.
• The mute button on my TV.
• Augusta in April, when Tiger and Phil and Rory turn their golf clubs into batons and wands, artists’ brushes and poets’ pens, and the spirits of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and other golfing saints stand on high ground in their green jackets and watch.
• The little neighbor girl who rang our doorbell and announced that she would sing us a song for 25 cents, and she did.
• Nachos, cheeseburgers, hushpuppies, pasta with clam sauce, fried oysters, onion rings, gravy, stuff that’s good for you.
• College arenas on winter nights, banners hanging in the rafters reminding us of Michael Jordan and Christian Laettner and David Thompson and Cedric Maxwell, of Lefty Driesell and Bones McKinney and Everett Case and Dean Smith, decades of glory echoing in our ears. After all these years, I still get chills.
• Driving through small towns and sensing the contentment that must rest on a place that has no traffic jams, where there’s not much going on that’s worth gossiping about, except maybe the Widow Jones wearing that short skirt.
• Arnold Palmer. His game is long gone, those slashing drives and bold putts faded into the mist, but he’s still The King.
• My wife Beth. We’ve been together for almost 58 years now and we’ll be together as long as I have a heart.
• Our family – sons, daughter, spouses and grandkids. We’re blessed. I’ve probably told you that. I hope you don’t mind my telling you again.
• Thanksgiving traditions, especially the dressing and the gravy that always looks nice on my shirt.
• Charles Johnson, the Panthers’ sack-happy defensive end who gives quarterbacks bad dreams.
• Summer clouds, tall as mountains, filled with images. Winter clouds, threatening snow, but not too much snow. Just enough to make us kids happy.
• Pinehurst, the mountains, the beaches, rivers, railroad tracks, country roads, all whispering, “Come on.”
• Dale Jr. finally won one and the angels sang.
• I saw college athletics when they still had a bit of sanity about them, before it was all about money.
• A grandfather clock ticking in a hallway, reminding us of a grandmother’s house long, long ago.
• The Checkers, the 49ers and other teams that call Charlotte home. If you want to see it, you can probably find it here.
• The Head Shop. Gotta mention my guys. I think it’s in my contract.
• Soccer moms. T-ball dads.
• I’m thankful for having known my golfing buddy Mark Howell, who passed away recently but left us with happy memories. In our hearts, we will save a place for him on the tee and at the 19th hole.
• Walk-off home runs, sports’ ultimate exclamation point.
• With a few exceptions, notably South Carolina and Clemson, college football is pretty mediocre to poor around here, but it’s still college football and Saturday mornings are still full of tingle. Afternoons? Not so much.
• Stock car drivers, a breed apart, a little bit rough, a little bit artist, a little bit hero, a little bit crazy.
• Christmas carols, except the one that goes “rump a pum pum, me and my drum” and the one about the lords a-leaping.
• Memories of my mom and dad, gone so long now, but I still think of them and what they left me – a kind heart and a sense of decency. I wish I could hug them again and tell them that. Maybe someday.