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Blessings never cease

Today, on another Thanksgiving Day, a few of the things for which I'm thankful:

The arrival of the college basketball season, Ol' Roy vs. Coach K, cold winter nights warmed by the passion of people with painted faces, memories of Michael Jordan and David Thompson and Lefty and Bones and a thousand others hanging in the air.

The 19th hole, where bogeys are left outside the door, except when needed to make the tale taller.

Somebody grilling something that smells good.

Max the muscular bulldog next door. The dog on the other side of our house, Minnie, growls at me for no reason I can figure out, being as sweet as I am, but Max just ignores me or looks at me the way he might look at a fire hydrant and I'm thankful for that. Max could chew up a freight car and not even burp, but he'd rather sleep.

Every minute I've ever spent in Pinehurst, at the Augusta Masters, in the mountains, at the beach.

The reincarnation of Steve Smith. After a lost season for the Panthers in 2010, he's back to being the most electrifying Panther ever. Cam Newton's not bad, either.

The former Beth Griffin, that cute girl at church. She's been Beth Green for quite awhile now and if she can continue to put up with ol' Ron fussing about his putting and forgetting to turn off lights, I think it might last.

Our extended family, joyful, smart and good-looking. Well, they are, and I'll say so if I want to.

Only one more year before the election noise dies down. Although some of those people are really funny.

Stock car racers. After all these years, I still marvel at what they do, weaving through traffic at high speed, smooth as smoke. It's enough to make New York cab drivers envious.

Clemson football, which has the best stadium nickname, Death Valley, and Dabo Swinney, the catchiest name in college coaching.

Christmas lights and Christmas songs, reminding me that there's still a bit of little boy in this ol' heart.

(As I've said before, I can do fine without Little Drummer Boy and Twelve Days of Christmas. You could torture atomic secrets out of me with those two.)

Finally, another World Series as it was meant to be, heroes doing heroic things on a runaway train of emotion. Albert Pujols, with a bat made of lightning and thunder.

The Bobcats. Remember them? The Checkers and the Knights, both one step below the majors and both quality entertainment at a reasonable price.

The warm blanket of friendship. A smile and a wave from neighbors.

The shameless sandbaggers I play golf with. The Head Shop, where regular clients get nicknames to go with their haircuts.

The people putting out the newspaper in these difficult times. May the daily miracle never cease.

Caller ID, one electronic device I can love.

The beauty of a Thanksgiving dinner table and the warm feeling around it. (All the better if the dressing is close at hand.)

Phil Mickelson, who is going into the Hall of Fame but is not done entertaining us with his unpredictable, playful puppy style of golf.

Ron Rivera and the Panthers. They aren't there yet, a long way from it, but they do have moments, sometimes games, when they are fun to watch again, when you can walk away feeling it was time well spent, unlike last season when you left feeling you should have raked leaves instead.

A book that won't turn me loose. A song that makes me want to slow dance.

A sunset that streaks the sky with purple and orange and pink, nature's way of singing us a lullaby as night comes on.