Roughly a decade ago, I stopped celebrating religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. It was really difficult to reconcile the celebration of these things with my professed atheism. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a bit more open ended. Despite it's Puritan roots, it's mostly non-sectarian. If you strip away the core supernatural element of giving thanks to an imaginary force for your good fortunes, it's still a good practice to reflect on the things you cherish in life and thank those who made it possible.
So, I'd like to thank my family, all my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and especially my siblings, Joy, Gina, and Joseph who had to put up with me while I was growing up. To my mom, I want you to know I remember the time I was having trouble with spelling in some early grade and you spent evenings with me going through long lists of words. Thank you for this and a million other kindnesses. To my father who passed away last year, thanks for working jobs you didn't especially like, working in loud, hot factories, in order to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and books on the bookshelf.
Speacking of working jobs one doesn't particularly like, I'm grateful to my present employer for the steady paycheck and such niceties as insurance. I gripe and moan about my job a lot, but I'm smart enough to know that much good comes to my life because I have work. And, my coworkers are owed a debt of gratitude for putting up with my various quirks. Thanks.
Of course, my day job is only half my work life. Writing is my true passion, and I'd like to thank all the editors who've ever bought a story from me, and also the editors who haven't, but have at least read my work in the slush pile. I'm grateful to the publisher's who've taken a chance on my novels, I'm grateful to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and to a thousand independent booksellers, and I'm grateful to the tens of thousands of readers in the US, the UK, France, and Germany who've read my books. I know I'll never meet more than a handful of you, but you are the reason I keep telling stories. It would be a sad thing for a chef to cook a meal that no one ever ate, and sadder still for a book to be written that no one ever read. Thank you for sparing me from such a fate.
And, speaking of readers, thanks to everyone who drops in here to peek at my ramblings. Special thanks go to Loren Eaton, Eric James Stone, John Brown, Drakonis, Rastranomicals, Mr. Cavin, and everyone else who sometimes pauses to engage in conversation on the topics I bring up.
From online friends, I'll jump to friends I actually see face to face, Dona, Jesse, Stephanie and everyone else I hang out with from week to week. Thanks also to the friends I see only occasionally, like James Rice and the whole Herrmann clan. To Simon and Veronica, I'm especially glad to still know you and thank you for allowing me to be at least a small part of your lives.
Next, I owe an extraordinary debt of gratitude to my fiance, Cheryl Morgan. When we met, I was in a pretty frazzled state. My life was in turmoil as I was struggling to deal with book deadlines, the demands of renovating a house, and the tricky task of figuring out the new contours of my world following Laura's death. Thank you, Cheryl, for finding me in the center of this whirlwind and helping to slowly guide me out. You've granted me a great gift of wisdom and patience and all I have to pay you back is time and love. I hope this will suffice.
Finally, from the personal to the anonymous: Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I want to say I'm grateful to America. I'm grateful that the people who founded this country, and the generations of people who have since helped shape and define it, have created a nation in which I'm free to think what I wish to think, say what I wish to say, and be who I wish to be. No one person has brought us to this place. The names recorded in history books are merely a few leaves on a much larger tree. America as it exists today isn't so much the creation of lawmakers and leaders as it is the work of vast millions of people who focus on making the world better for themselves and their families and don't waste a lot of time or energy on hating others. America is a great place to live because of this. Thank you all.