Giving thanks all year-round has been my goal for a while now, though I'm not quite as diligent about it as I could be. Most of the time those thanks are between me and the people involved. This time (and yes, because I needed to crank out a column), I'm sharing it with all of you.
This year, I'm thankful for (in no particular order):
• Friends. I'm a hermit and a massive introvert. However, several years back, I took a reader up on an offer of breakfast, which is something I don't do often. We already had much in common, beginning with our birthday (Jan. 13), and we'd been talking through email and my blog for a while, so there were no alarm bells. That turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done.
Since then, Sarah has become one of my very best friends, and has introduced me to other friends, like Kathy, Sandra, Sophie and Rose (my people!), and brought me out of my shell. I'm still not ready to just go up to random people and introduce myself, but I'm a lot more comfortable being out and about than ever before.
• Fur-kin. Longtime readers know I'm a fan of furry family members (yes, they're family for a great lot of us, and some give far more unconditional love than humans). For 14 years, I had my furry boy Luke, who was the light of my life, so much so that I still haven't gotten another cat more than five years after he died. That doesn't mean that I've gone without furry love, though.
Boo, a sweet semi-feral who patrols the nearby furniture warehouse, generally comes around on weekends and holidays when the warehouse is closed for food from the nice lady who's a soft touch, and pays me in sweet, trilling meows and head bumps.
And then there are fur-nephews Charlie and Spike, belonging to friends Sarah and Kathy. From Charlie, I get lots of kisses, head bumps and purrs along with the entertainment that comes from light bouncing off my iPad in Sarah's living room (I used a laser with Luke; I don't need one with Charlie as long as I have my iPad or phone). With Spike, it's constant laughter at his antics, especially when I "frow da duck" (his pig has been retired to the trash heap, dang it), as well as accelerated heart rate when he manages to find ways into or out of places (but hey, thanks for letting us know about that gate and that you could get into Charlie's office/safe space!).
Life would be a lot more boring without them.
• Human kin. Corey and Mama are no longer around, but brothers Mitch and Kevin still are, as is Kevin's wife Karen, who's saved my bacon more than once, and Corey's longtime love Carletta, who will always be family to us. Plus there are lots of nephews and nieces, including nephew Matt and his beautiful family (newest member Leia is 18 months old and a little firecracker) and newly married nephew Dalton (loooove Amanda).
Then there are all the cousins, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, etc. They make the days brighter when they're around.
• Still being a super-dodger. One of my fellow super-dodgers recently lost her status, and I was exposed. I've been negative on all my tests (that includes the clinical one a few months back; I was negative for flu as well, thank God), and am right now simply dealing with the usual sinusitis/cold I usually get when there are big temperature changes.
Even if I'd been positive, I've been vaccinated, and had the latest bivalent booster last month, so any symptoms I'd have would most likely be relatively minor, as were my friend's.
And speaking of that ...
• Science. Because of the decades of research that had gone into mRNA vaccines prior to the covid pandemic, as well as the quick work of getting the genetic sequence of the virus out to scientists, the work was able to start immediately on developing a vaccine to hopefully convey immunity. The process isn't perfect, and you can still get sick even if you've been vaccinated, but if you do, you're a lot less likely to end up in the hospital (my friend was miserable for a little while, but recovered with no need for hospitalization) or die. Plus, there are constant checks on any medication so that it can be pulled if significant ill effects show up.
That's what science does. It's never really settled, and can change with new information, new technology, etc. Watching it in real time as we did in the pandemic can be startling, but it's nonetheless an amazing process.
Did you forget that I'm a nerd? Science is cool!
One more thing I'm really thankful for: the readers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, all of you, even those who never find anything worthy in my columns or those of other columnists, or re-interpret them in ways never intended. What's important is that you're reading a newspaper and reacting.
Those of us working in newspapers need you, and we appreciate you more than you know. You're why we do this job, whether we're editors, columnists, reporters, designers or any other employee, so thank you.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at email@example.com. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.