Thanksgiving Day will soon be here. 

It’s hard to believe we are on the verge of the annual day set aside to give gratitude for all of the things we have. 

I hope we will remember it is Thanksgiving and not turkey day. I personally have never cared for turkey, so I’m thankful to not have to eat it if I don’t want it. 

That got me to thinking about all the things I am thankful for. 

I challenge my congregation at this time of year to prepare a two column list and write down all your problems in one and all your blessings in the other. It’s a good exercise and I would venture to guess all of us will find our blessings column is larger than our problems column. 

My list is incomplete to be sure, but here’s just a portion of the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful:

• for a God Who loves me and Who is gracious and blesses me even in spite of myself. I am thankful to my church family as I try to serve them as their pastor, while serving the Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep. They all deserve my thanks for being so patient and nurturing to me as a rookie in my first pastorate.

• for my family. I am blessed to still have my parents, who live next door to me.  I am blessed with an older sister, Kristie, and brother-in-law, John, and my brother, Kennon and his friend, Cindy. I have a beautiful niece, Breanna, and a handsome nephew, Benjamin, who still think I am halfway cool when the world has already figured out otherwise.  I am thankful for an extended family of Deals, Lees (my Daddy’s side), Rogers, Tyres, Lees (my Mama’s side), Griffins, Joneses and Drydens — far flung and numerous — who represent a cross section of all the clans that shaped who I am. 

• to live in the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth. Of our experiment in self-government, Mr. Lincoln once called it “the last, best hope of earth”. My fellow countrymen and women, I sure hope we will learn to get along with one another and be Americans again. We can’t keep being so polarized and so hateful to one another. I grow so sick and tired of all the vitriol that is hurled by one side against the other all day, every day, all the time. The Lord says it very simply. We are to “Love one another”. Try it. 

• to live in Long Branch Community in Appling County in what Granddaddy Deal called God’s country. He said, with a twinkle in his eye, it was called that, because God was the only One who knew where it was and He allowed us to live there. I am also thankful to work in a blessed and good community, Pierce County.

• to my current and former boss. Matt Gardner has stepped in and the transition in ownership at The Times has been smooth. He has been very gracious to us and I can still hardly believe he pays me to do something that I love. Thank you, also, to Robert and Cheryl Williams who took in a lost and wandering soul 18 years ago come the end of December and helped him find his way again and get back on his feet. 

• to my co-workers Sarah, Julie and Joan. We are a family. Thank you for looking out for me.

• to my good friend on Johnson Street, who manages to serve as counselor, advisor and psychologist when I need it. I am thankful to be able to lean on him. 

• to all of our public servants, soldiers and emergency personnel who endeavor to keep us safe. 

I am reminded of the little girl at a Thanksgiving service at our church several years ago. We went around the fellowship circle with each one saying what we were thankful for. When it came her turn, in a crystal clear voice, she declared: “I am just thankful for being thankful.”

That is, afterall, what Thanksgiving is all about. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from me and mine.

Blessings to you!

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@theblacksheartimes.com.