November 20, 2006

Hi Gang:

For the past several Thanksgiving seasons, I have written in this space that one of my boyhood heroes was 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 (and still does so far as I know) write a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution listing the things he was most thankful for that particular year. With apologies to him once again for borrowing his idea, I’ve made another list of my own:

I’M THANKFUL….

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

For my three children, their spouses, and my six grandchildren, all of whom are now back home and living in the greater Nashville area. I realized how much I had missed them one recent afternoon when I wasn’t feeling well. My daughter, Jenni, came to the door with a big bowl of her homemade potato soup. I nicknamed it my “hillbilly penicillin!”

I’m thankful that almost a half-century after having written my first #1 hit song I was able to get together with some co-writing buddies of mine and do it again. And I’m thankful for George Strait and his incredible rendition of that song, “Give It Away.” And I’m thankful that in this day of complicated melodies and rocking rhythm patterns in country music, our song was simply three-chords and the truth.

I’m thankful for 45-years as a performing member of the Grand Ole Opry. And I’m especially thankful for the celebration my fan club staged in my honor this past July when I reached that milestone.

I’m thankful for having had a “little sister” in my life ever since I was four-and-a-half years old, and I’m so proud of the long, courageous fight she put up against cancer. And I’m especially thankful that, in the last years of her life, she and I were able to come to the realization that the things we had in common were so much stronger than any differences that might have ever existed between us. Thanksgiving and Christmas were her two favorite days of the year. I’ll miss sharing them with her this year…and every year until we can be together again.

I’m thankful for the little lady I met this summer working behind the counter at the donut shop in Maine. I walked in to order a glass of orange juice and she said, “You look like a singer that I used to like.” I tried to keep a straight face and asked her his name. “Bill Anderson,” she replied. “You don’t like him anymore?” I inquired. “No,” she said, he hasn’t put out anything good in a long time.” Then, as it slowly began to dawn on her that I just might be the singer she was talking about, she quickly added, “But my mother still likes him a lot!”

And I’m thankful for the memories of Thanksgivings past…the smell of mama’s turkey and dressing hot from the oven and the heartfelt blessing my daddy would always offer prior to the meal. Nobody before or since could offer thanks to the Lord for our “many, many blessings” quite like my daddy.

I’m thankful that I’ll have all my children, their spouses, and all my grandchildren at my house this Thanksgiving Day. I hope I can help create some special memories for them the way my folks always did for me.

I continue to be thankful every day for our servicemen and women who, by no choice of their own, must spend Thanksgiving apart from their loved ones this year because they are somewhere helping to preserve and protect the freedoms the rest of us too often take for granted.

I’m thankful for the man up in Ohio who found the old acetate recording of mine in a pile of vintage records he purchased at a yard sale or flea market. It was a political jingle I had written and sung for our incumbent congressman when I was 15 or 16 years old. He took the scratchy old recording and, with modern technology, made it sound new. He went to a lot of trouble to share it with me. Someday, I hope I can share it with you.

I’m even thankful for the lady who recently read my autobiography and, after subjecting herself to four-hundred-plus pages of all that I had done in my busy life, wrote and asked, “When did you have time to go potty?”

And I’m thankful to each of you, my fans and my friends, who took the time to stop by my web site today. I have often said that I don’t have the most fans in country music, but I sure have some of the very best! May we each be renewed by the season and reminded once again of our “many, many blessings”….not just at Thanksgiving, but on every single day of the year.