The turkeys are thawing and innocent dust bunnies are being slaughtered in preparation for Thanksgiving. It is time for us all to count blessings and give thanks for our bountiful lives. I am honored to get the ball rolling by noting those things for which I am truly thankful this year.

The turkeys are thawing and innocent dust bunnies are being slaughtered in preparation for Thanksgiving. It is time for us all to count blessings and give thanks for our bountiful lives. I am honored to get the ball rolling by noting those things for which I am truly thankful this year.


We have a bulky, freshly cut fraser fir already sitting in a corner of our living room. I am thankful for circumstances that resulted in us planning our day trip to the mountains to select and cut a tree two weeks before the tree farm we patronize opens for the season. It is a farm, so Billy would have sold us a Christmas tree even if we showed up in July.


We missed out on the wreaths and garland. There was no complimentary hot cider. However, even though we were the 16th customers of the weekend, we missed any semblance of a crowd. Our car sat alone in the parking lot. We received Billy’s full attention, including help strapping the tree to the luggage rack.


My mom and I will probably venture back to pick up a wreath or two and sip cider. But we won’t have to worry about standing in the tree trimming and packaging line. We won’t have to fret about someone else finding our perfect tree three minutes before we saw it. And we can take our time perusing the Christmas Shoppe without Hubby or the boys hurrying us along.


Thankfulness also washes over me when I recall the day my mother shared the bread recipe she found in her bread-baking magazine. I had no idea there were magazines specifically targeted to people who bake homemade bread. And now that I have this particular recipe, I don’t feel the need to subscribe to any such periodical.


The recipe is quick, easy, and adaptable. With it, I can whip up loaves of white, wheat, rosemary, garlic herb, and cinnamon raisin without needing to knead or have the dough rise and rest multiple times. It takes five minutes to assemble, an hour to rise, a few more minutes to move from bowl to baking pans, and thirty minutes to bake.


But that is not all! With minor tweaking of the amount of salt used in dough prep, I can also use the recipe for our homemade pizza dough. In our family, this is a very big deal. Our old recipe, also handed down by my mom, took longer and required more ingredients.


Of course, we get our artisan when we add homegrown herbs, chopped garlic, olives, sundried tomatoes, and such. And I always brush my loaves with a little olive oil as soon as they come out of the oven. I’ve baked more bread in 2013 than in any other year of my life.


There is also gratitude in my heart for winter. Since hitting my early forties, I’ve been plagued by a family curse. No one mentioned this curse until I complained one day to my mother about being in a mall in Pennsylvania, unable to find relief from the scorching heat.


The story went something like this: Tired of my complaints about the heat, my concerned Hubby and son slipped into a store to purchase a cold soft drink for me. Hubby handed me the drink, after which I became belligerent. "Why would you buy me a warm drink? That makes no sense? And why does this mall not have air conditioning? It’s August!"


My son became disturbingly quiet for a teenager. Hubby kept a safe distance, and then explained that he pulled the cola I was drinking out of the back of a cooler. He then added that the mall was not only air conditioned, it felt like—to him—the thermostat was set to "polar."


After I finished my story, Ma had one of her own. That was the day I found out the women on my mom’s side of the family had the pleasure of experiencing a solid decade of premenopause before finally reaching the big change.


Winter is currently the only season during which I have the ability to experience coldness. Even when I dip my toes into cold pool water at the beginning or end of swimming season, I don’t actually cool off for all that long. From the end of February until mid-December, I simmer just above normal human temperatures, erupting periodically to volcanic heat that could melt diamonds.


This year, thankfully, the cold began swirling in early. We’ve already had our first snow, for which I am eternally grateful. My mother assures me I will someday cool off, feeling chilly 11 months a year. She says one day I will look forward to the dog days of summer, when I can wear a short sleeved shirt and not freeze to death.


Until then, bring on the white wooly worms and weather patterns ushering in arctic blasts. For those of you chilled by the thought, come sit by me. Hubby claims I emit more heat than an old basement furnace going full throttle.


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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and the author of Thurston T. Turtle children’s books. She and her family live in North Carolina. Her e-mail address is mickibare@gmail.com.