I am not a particularly religious man, nor one given to spending vast amounts of time in church.
I do talk to the Man Upstairs, however. It may not be every night, but I try to bend the Lord's ear for a minute or two several nights a week before I go to sleep. I usually ask for a couple of things I don't deem insulting. In other words, I ask him to watch over my family and to give me the strength to make the right decisions. I don't, as the old song says, ask him to buy me a Mercedes Benz.
I also ask forgiveness for whatever I've done wrong that day, which is probably reason enough to increase my frequency to every night.
But jokes aside, the main thing I do is thank him. On cold nights, I thank him for a warm bed. When people get laid off, I thank him for a job. When ... well, why don't I just run it down for you, and then you'll know what yesterday meant to me.
· I'm very lucky to have a wife who loves me no matter how much I mess up or irritate her. There's nothing you can be more thankful for than love.
· I couldn't be happier or prouder that this Thanksgiving and Christmas are my first ones as an official dad and my second as a stepdad. I have the most beautiful, wonderful daughter in the world, and she loves her daddy very much. And I have a stepson who will throw the football with me, lets me win at Madden on the Xbox, and next month he will go with the rest of us old fogeys to see some older fogeys rock out at Philips Arena. The rest of his classmates might wear AC/DC T-shirts because they're fashionable, but my stepson's will be earned the head-bangin' hard way, and I couldn't be prouder.
Honestly, I could stop right there and say I'm the luckiest man there is, but I'll go on.
· As I said, I'm thankful for a warm bed and the roof over my head, especially when so many are losing theirs.
· I'm glad I live in a country where food and water are still so plentiful that we all have no problem maintaining nice round bellies. I'm almost ashamed sometimes when I look in my refrigerator.
· I'm thankful the company I work for is still in business and still paying me, especially when so many businesses are doing the opposite.
· I'm thankful the employees who I supervise are hard-working, accommodating, dedicated, good people who are fun to work with.
· A great big thank you to whatever force finally made it affordable to drive to work again.
· I'm thankful I was able to host a Thanksgiving dinner for my family, my parents, my sister's family, my in-laws and their dog.
· I'm glad that, despite my efforts to destroy it, my body manages to maintain some sort of semblance of health.
· I'm thankful to be able to get away from everything this weekend so I can spend some time with my dad deer hunting.
· I couldn't care less whether I kill a deer or not, but I'm thankful to be able to get out in the majesty of the outdoors to enjoy a couple of cold mornings with only the sounds of birds and squirrels instead of horns and cell phones.
· I'm very thankful for the owner of the Honey-baked Ham store in Athens, who did a nice thing for me on one of those days when I desperately needed it. His small act of kindness turned a cruddy day around and earned him a Christmas gift and a customer for life.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
Most of us have lists like this, some shorter, some longer, but most of us are doing OK.
But some aren't. Some may be having a hard time or worse.
So the next time you bend the Lord's ear before bedtime, thank him. And then, instead of asking for that Mercedes Benz, ask him to do something for one of those having a hard time. Or go out and do something yourself.
After all, it's called Thanksgiving.
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.