Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thanks Must Be Given

After an election like the one we just endured, Thanksgiving—with its focus on what’s good—can’t come soon enough. Here’s a list of some things I’m thankful for this year, in addition to my dear family:

Autumn. At last. Narcissus bulbs, emboldened by the receptivity of Texas voters, have been trying to bloom in my garden. Not yet, fellas. Not till January, at least.
BBQ turkey at Truth Barbecue outside Brenham, piled high on a bun and anointed with cole slaw and sauce. Love that word, Truth.

Books. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald; A Writer’s Diary, by Virginia Woolf; Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf; All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
Cell phone coverage, when and if you have it;

Our churches, source of necessary consolation to so many. And the wonderful Wandke organ in Round Top’s Bethlehem Lutheran Church, soon to be 150 years old.
Festival Hill, year-round. A source of pride as well as beauty in our world. Music is the surest form of time travel.

Football season winding down. Soon the sound of helmets and shoulder pads colliding will fade. Young bones and brains will be relatively safe for another year.
Handicap parking. The whole Americans with Disabilities Act, in fact. What a hassle going anywhere would be without it. Remember: climbing stairs and curbs before ramps, public lavatories without a railing to grip, and with stalls too small for a wheelchair? HEB or Lowe’s would be impossible if we had to walk from the far recesses of the parking lot, too. I’m thankful to whoever accomplished that beneficial change. Congress, you say? Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush? Yep.

Innocence. A rare commodity and getting more so. I see it in the littlest children, three and four-year-olds, before the internet can climb into their minds. I see it in dogs, the way they wholly inhabit their true selves. What is more beautiful than a dog doing the work he was intended to do? We should protect and cherish innocence wherever we find it.
Onion rings at JW’s Steakhouse in Carmine. Mmm.

People who come to book signings.
Pulled pork sandwiches at Teague’s Tavern. The tavern itself, a welcome addition to the Round Top menu.

Poems. The Poem-a-day from Comes in email. Always interesting, often elevating.
The Constitutional right of citizen protest. Let’s make sure we squash any attempts to shut it down.

Rain when we need it, and sunshine when we don’t.
The resilience of German and Czech heritage in our area ensured by heritage societies, museums and organizations such as the Round Top Schützen Verein. Traditions live.

Respect for the good intentions of others, even if you loathe the political decisions they make.
Restaurants that serve fish: grilled snapper and sautéed veggies at Royer’s; butterflied grilled trout and salmon at JW’s in Carmine; Teague’s butter glazed salmon, too. Thanks, guys!

The rich array of Texas crafts at the Copper Shade Tree. And the sprouting of so many shops in Henkel Square Market, the advent of French Antiques in old Von Minden store, liquid solace and conviviality at Prost, music at the Stone Cellar, etc., etc.
Our schools, the teachers inside them, the parents and community volunteers who enhance them, the students who work hard to learn, to think, to understand.

Winedale Historical Complex, grounding visitors in the craftsmanship of our ancestors, for whom it was a necessity not a hobby. Compared to the urban creep in which we increasingly live, Winedale’s hand wrought construction and painted interior decoration by our German immigrant forebears feels like a soothing cloth on a fevered brow. And it is not commercial, so it survives on our good will and donations alone.
And because it is the holiday season: pie whereever it may be found. Coconut meringue at JW's, pecan at Royer's, your mom's and your own favorite. Mine is pumpkin, made with molasses and a splash of bourbon. But not this year. This year I'm dieting.

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