Updated: December 19, 2011 8:13AM
In less than a week, people across the nation will gather to give thanks.
I do so today.
For puppy dog kisses.
That I haven’t had a cigarette for more than four years.
That Barack Obama is president.
For red meat and homegrown tomatoes in the summer.
That year-in and year-out the Chicago White Sox are the best baseball team in town.
For family, even though it is dwindling in size.
That I have a Red Ryder BB gun, just like Ralphie.
For quiet afternoons on pristine lakes with a cane pole and a can of worms.
For the call of the loon.
For hops, rice and barley malt.
That I can drive Lakeshore Drive and take in the Chicago skyline.
That the Chicago Blackhawks skate across my life for at least seven months a year.
That I’ve never joined the ranks of cell phone owners.
That I don’t own a lawnmower.
For Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Anyone of them will guarantee the re-election of President Obama.
That the Lake County Animal Shelter is a no-kill facility.
That I got to know Johnny Visclosky’s son.
That Karen Freeman-Wilson is bringing much-needed hope to Gary.
That I got to see former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh operate in his prime.
For the cops who are on the streets while I sleep.
That the push to do away with the Electoral College is gaining strength.
That I still have the Bobby Hull autograph I got 40 years ago.
That I got to experience Phil Smidt’s restaurant and hope another opens.
That I haven’t seen Dick Cheney on televison for at least a month.
That President Obama has gotten serious about bringing our troops home despite Republican criticism.
For turkey sandwiches.
That I never have been sucked in by gourmet coffee.
That the emissions contines to spew out of the stacks at the steel mills.
For crickets and lightning bugs.
That Richard Lugar is one of my senators.
That the Gary/Chicago International Airport finally is set for the runway project that could pave the way for the future.
That I was blessed with the compassion of a Democrat.
That it appears the Illiana Expressway finally will be built.
That I live in an area rich in ethnic foods.
That the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra continues to play on.
For those who contribute to food banks.
For pre-lit Christmas trees.
For the Great Blue Heron.
That there is more and more talk about building a convention center in Northwest Indiana.
That union men and women are fighting back against the assaults on what they have worked for over the years.
For radishes and dill pickles.
For the time change in the spring.
That I never got into reality TV.
For garage door openers and anything else that just takes the push of a button.
That Planned Parenthood of Indiana continues to fight for the less fortunate despite unwarranted attacks.
And most of all I’m thanful to be a Region Rat, and wear the label as a badge of honor.
Rich James’ column appears on Friday.