By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Stuff 'n Nonsense Giving Thanks
Placeholder Image
By the time you read this if you observe the upcoming holiday, you'll be knee-deep in preparation or packing up the car to share Thanksgiving with relatives out of town. It seems this year went by incredibly fast and I don't know if it's because I've been writing like a mad woman trying to make my back-to-back deadlines or there was some kind of universal fast forward that happened while no one was paying attention, but either way, if you're like me, you're wondering how the heck did we end up here already.

But Thanksgiving is here, which means Christmas is just around the corner, and I'm not prepared for either.

With that said, time waits for no man (or woman) and whether we're ready or not, come Thursday, Nov. 27 we'll all be stuffing our faces with lots of yummy food, seated around people we love (or tolerate on special occasions) and hopefully, taking a moment to recognize our blessings.

I am constantly aware that everything we have can be taken from us through unfortunate circumstance and we can be blindsided by adversity when we least expect it. If I were to make a list of the most recent events that could be considered disheartening it would look something like this:

The house we were trying to buy fell through three days before we were supposed to get the keys. This was a major blow to our family and one we've tried to weather with dignity and good humor but there have been weak moments when I've cried with sharp disappointment.

In spite of ardent attempts on our part to fix it, our credit remains a mess and I've almost lost hope of ever seeing a good score again.

Our son is suffering from some mystery ailment that is mystifying doctors and as we go from one test to another with no answer our hopes dim for a quick resolution.

Our 3-year-old daughter cannot string together a simple sentence that isn't constructed of anything more than gibberish even though she knows exactly what she's trying to communicate in her own language.

My new wooden sleigh bed creaks like the Mayflower sailing the ocean blue, so much so that I'm surprised our neighbors haven't called to complain. We've done everything we can think of to stop the noise but to no avail.

I hate our new printer. It's loud, eats ink, and is large and bulky.

The list could go on - especially if I'm in a particularly petulant sort of mood - but that's not where I'm going today.

Even though all these things and more are part of our daily lives, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am compelled to count my blessings instead.

Every day I am thankful that:

My children are relatively healthy, happy and well-adjusted in spite of all the financial ups and downs they've weathered throughout their young lives. My sons are turning into good young men with manners and morals. My daughter gives us endless joy with her sparkling personality and entertaining antics.

I have a man in my life who makes me laugh, or at the very least reminds me not to take myself so seriously all of the time. At the end of a hard day, his arms are the ones I want around me.

My star is steadily rising in my new career as a romance novelist and I'm contracted through 2010.

My family loves game night as much as I do.

We have a nice home to live in, even if we don't own it.

And, at the moment, I am very thankful that I could fill up my van for $37.

Some of the things I'm thankful for are small and may not matter to other people but they matter to me and these are the things that give me strength to keep fighting when it feels like I'm getting pummeled by life.

None of us have been promised tomorrow and there are countless little inspirational sayings that encourage us to live for today but we never truly take that to heart until something earth-shattering reminds us in a painful or frightening way.

Two weeks ago my number could've been up. I was at the stoplight at Willowood and West F Street, turning left toward town. The light turned green but for reasons unknown, I paused to look for my cell phone, which was on my passenger side seat. That pause saved my life.

A black, raised truck heading toward Riverbank blew through the stoplight going about 60 mph. If I'd proceeded as I was supposed to, he would've T-boned me. Pieces of me would've been all over the roadside because I hadn't put on my seatbelt yet. My first thought (when I could breathe again) was thank God my daughter wasn't in the car because I'd give my own life if it meant saving hers. My eyes teared up when I thought how easily her little story could have ended through the thoughtless actions of someone else.

Everyone I related this story to said the same thing: You had an angel riding with you.

I agreed. And I think that boneheaded driver did too because if he'd killed me it would've changed his life forever. Perhaps he and I still have work to do on this plane so our paths did not collide on that day.

So, as I spend the holidays with my family at my side, I am eternally thankful that I am still here to worry about my credit, complain about my bed, and glower at my printer.

But most of all ... I'm thankful that I am blessed by all the wonderful people in my life: friends, family, coworkers.

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.