November 18, 2004

Hi Gang:

One of my boyhood heroes was (and is) a sportswriter in Atlanta named Furman Bisher. When I was a teenager and attempting to be a bit of a sportswriter myself, I wanted to grow up to be him.

Every Thanksgiving he would write a column in the paper listing the things he was most thankful for that particular year. With apologies for borrowing his idea, I’ve made a little list of my own:

I’M THANKFUL….

For the sun that came up over the Tennessee hills this morning, and that I was able to get up out of bed, make coffee, and be gifted with another day as a small part of God’s incredible creation.

I’m thankful that one is never considered “too old” to be a songwriter.

I’m thankful for the gift of “Whiskey Lullaby”, and the fact that it succeeded in spite of being so different from most of the songs on today’s country radio.

I’m thankful for the lives and the legacies of those we’ve lost this year, including Skeeter Davis and Roy Drusky, who inspired me with their talents and honored me with their friendship. And I’m thankful that Kris Kristofferson and Jim Fogelsong received their just due by being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I’m thankful that I got into the music business at a time when value was placed on each artist being a unique stylist and being different from others in the genre.

I’m thankful for the gift of laughter, and I’m glad I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know and laugh along with Roger Miller, Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, Lewis Grizzard, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Gateley, and Little Jimmy Dickens.

I’m thankful for the towns and cities along our concert trail that have sidewalks, hiking trails, and picturesque parks where I can go walking during my visits.

I’m thankful for having had the opportunity recently to re-visit the two houses of my childhood where I most remember growing up. But I sure thought the front yard of our house in South Carolina was bigger than it is!

As much as I miss my mom, I’m thankful she didn’t have to live to experience the horror of 9/11….nor see our neat little white house on Conway Road now painted an outlandish shade of red with white trim. And yet I can’t help but wonder what that witty and acerbic little lady would have said when she saw it!

I’m thankful my sister continues to stand toe-to-to with the Big C, fighting it has hard as anyone possibly could. I’m thankful she has learned to take each day as it comes…living with a grateful and determined attitude.

I’m thankful for the birth of two new grandchildren this year, and the wonderful love and joy I continue to receive from the four that were already here.

I’m thankful for three children, two sons-in-law, and a daughter-in-law who bless and brighten my life every day. I’m especially thankful for my son’s unshakable faith in the face of all the uncertainties within the airline industry these days…an industry he loves and in which he is employed.

I’m thankful for our servicemen and women who, by no choice of their own, must spend Thanksgiving apart from their friends and families this year because they are somewhere helping protect the freedoms the rest of us too often take for granted.

I’m thankful for the little 85-year old lady who proudly told me, “I’ve listened to you all my life!”

And I’m thankful for each of you, my fans and my friends, who stopped by my web site today. May we each be renewed by the season and reminded of our many, many blessings…not just at Thanksgiving, but on every single day of the year.