“Here we go again,” Granddaughter Kass said one Thanksgiving mealtime as I prepared to “say Grace.” She knew I don’t normally subscribe to the pre-formatted version of my childhood:

Bless us Oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, amen.

Past are the days when Mr. and Mrs. and Four Little Messeders sat every evening at the dinner table. This branch of the family now sits mostly in the living room and watches TV while we eat. On the other hand, now there are only two of us – except for Thanksgiving and the occasional visit from one or two of the offspring.

When those opportunities do arise, we sit around the large table, and on special occasions, such as this one, I tend to ramble a bit about a few of those things for which I am most grateful.

I had the privilege of helping raise two babies to become pretty OK adults. There were times when we joked that one of them, or his parents, might not live to see his next birthday. He and we did, and his three young’uns – my first three grandchildren, have turned out very well, indeed.

The other became a teacher – a calling second only to parenthood. Her children are the thousands of middle schoolers to whom she helps pass on the tribal lore.

I sit at the table beside a special lady who, after more than 20 years, still allows me to sleep indoors when it rains.

There is the aforementioned slightly disrespectful granddaughter, who turned two the day her grandma and I went on our first date. She’s 20-something now, grown into a fine partner for the young man she has attracted to our menagerie.

I’m thankful I can enjoy walking barefoot in the snow, rather than being forced by lack of a pair of shoes.

I’m thankful that I live where I can travel freely in relative safety, where there is no roadblock at the state line asking for, “Your papers, please.”

I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to visit other cultures, experience that all of us bleed red when we’re cut, and wish at the end of a day for a relaxing beverage and someone warm with whom to share it.

I’m thankful I live in a nation which, for all its foibles, is an envied destination for millions of people who would happily live here with at least a chance to provide their children with freedoms and opportunities we take for granted.

I’m thankful for so many of my brothers and sisters who have volunteered to serve on distant battlefields so that I may stay home and enjoy turkey dinner about which they can only fantasize.

I’m thankful for medical providers who chase away the cancer, help us through heart attacks, and generally extend our tenure on the planet.

I’m thankful for readers who continue to think my mental meanderings are worth reading, even though some readers occasionally disagree with what I have set down.

I remind myself of these things from time to time, and especially on this holiday, remind myself not to feel too sorry for me when things don’t go as I’d like.

I don’t plan to leave any time soon, but my time here has not been, I hope, and barring a few errors, in vain. I hope you all have your own list to ponder before the time arrives to give gifts to all those who are part of your own infinite memory-beam of starlight and memories.