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Buck Owens Taught Me How to Count
I remember climbing up into my papaw’s lap on Saturday nights to watch Hee-Haw when I was just a yearling boy. Hee-Haw was a silly sketch comedy show that played to all of the stereotypes of the South, but it was good-natured humor interlaced with a smattering of legends singing gospel and country songs.
Papaw did most of the watching while I drove toy cars up and down his chest, parking them in his shirt pocket whenever Archie Campbell or Lulu Roman popped out of the corn field to tell a joke. And we all sang along with Buck Owens and Roy Clark when they began their weekly lamentation, “Gloom, despair, agony on me. / Deep dark depression, excessive misery. / If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. / Gloom, despair, agony on me.”
But even as a boy of five, it was evident to me that the cast of Hee-Haw was actually poking fun at those who make their home in the doldrums. It may have been my earliest introduction to satire, as those country stars dressed up like scarecrows reminded us to be grateful rather than go through life with our bottom lips dragging the ground like bulldozer blades. It was if they were saying, “even when things are bad, they ain’t that bad. And there’s always something to be thankful for.”
Gratitude should come easily to us, if for no other reason than that we have eyeballs in our heads. Just glancing around, you should be able to pick about two or three dozen things you can say grace over right now. And this time of year is a perfect opportunity to make mental lists and utter quiet prayers of thanksgiving.
I’ll get us started and then you just pick up where I leave off. And you tell me if two minutes of gratitude doesn’t do more for the health of your soul than thirty seconds of bellyaching.
I am thankful for wheated prairies, royal roses, steep giraffes, cool breezes, crackling fires, loyal dogs, tall corn, short ribs, sweet tater pies, cornbread dressing, and extra notches on our belts.
I thank God for every rerun of the Andy Griffith Show. For Andy and Floyd and Otis and Barney and Goober and Opie and Ernest T. and Aunt Bee.
I am grateful that as one walks through malls and department stores this time of year one hears the old familiar voices of Nat and Bing and Burl and even those high-pitched Chipmunks.
I am thankful for sixty year old cast iron and coffee cans full of bacon grease.
I am thankful for warm socks on cold mornings, and that the heater in my old truck still works. Most of the time.
I am grateful for the dog curled up inconveniently at my feet, reminding me that unconditional love exists in this world since God himself always takes in strays.
I give thanks for the blessedness of a grandmother’s gentle embrace and the integrity of a grandfather's handshake. For the joy of a baby’s giggle and the humor of his first awkward steps. For the thrill of wide-eyed wonder, the satisfaction of a hard day's labor, and the rejuvenation of a good night's sleep. For the potency of straight bourbon and the way a roaring fireplace fills up a cold room on a wintery night. For the uproarious laughter of friends and the soft sting of their slaps on the back. For the melody of Beethoven’s symphonies and the serene music of a puppy's snore. For the way in which a baseball fits neatly in our hands while a hippopotamus doesn’t.
Most of all, I am thankful that because God has so inundated life with good things, every attempt to list them will fail.
Now, it’s your turn.
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