Being thankful every day is the perfect recipe for happiness

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MIDDLEBURG – The lines were long at my local grocery store Monday night as people were trying to make sure they had everything for Thanksgiving dinner.

While others had beachball-sized frozen turkeys, boxes of stuffing, jars of gravy and bags of potatoes overflowing from their carts, mine was filled with blocks of cream cheese. At my house, nothing says Happy Thanksgiving more than a key lime cheesecake.

For the first time in 64 years, I won’t be surrounded by family on Thanksgiving Day. I could sulk in solitude or gorge myself on a day of football.

But I decided to make cheesecakes. Five of them. And will share them with other people who serve our community’s needs instead of being with their families.

Because criminals don’t take a day off, the 911 call center and detention deputies have to work during the holidays. But their service will be rewarded with a treat that’s every bit as sweet as it is tart.

Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, and there’s no better day to extend a hand in friendship and gratitude to the people who have to punch a time clock while the rest of us get the day off with pay.

But it should be so much bigger than that.

We all should strive to reach out to our neighbors. It never hurts to smile and say hello when you pass someone, especially a perfect stranger. Give someone the little “wave” when they let you cut into traffic. And always let people get off the elevator before you pile in. Be nice.

Being kind and considerate has been lost in the noisy distraction of division and hate. There was a time when being showing respect and compassion was the norm. Now it makes you an exception.

I don’t mind being unusually happy. I don’t have the time or interest to be upset all the time. Besides, I have five key lime cheesecakes to make, so my time is important.

And after that, I want to ring Salvation Army bells, paint Habitat for Humanity houses and write stories to bring smiles to our readers. News isn’t always pretty and neat. The incident involving nine boys involved in a fight and fatal stabbing in Orange Park last weekend is proof of that.

But there are good stories out there, too. Lots of good stories. There are fellow neighbors who are making their own key lime cheesecakes for someone else, and I am thankful for that.

Thanksgiving is the single day when we embrace our families and friends. We recount what makes our relationships so important. But why does that have to be limited to just one day?

We should take time every day to be thankful for the goodness around us. We should never miss the opportunity to hug our children, spouses and parents. Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be a flippant catchphrase. It should be an honest comment of our emotions. It doesn’t take much to extend a hand in friendship or care.

I am thankful for this community. Being the son of an Air Force navigator means I lived in nine different states by the time I was in eighth grade, but this is my final stop. I am thankful to call this home.

I will celebrate by extending my hand and heart to others on Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully, it will put a smile on their faces. Hopefully, it will help them realize we all are thankful for their service.

And if you want the recipe, just send me a note.

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