It’s that time of year again.

A time to eat turkey and give thanks. It’s also the year of the pandemic, politics and prayer — lots of prayer. As the recent surveys suggest, 51% of families will be gathering as usual while the other 49% will not.

Let me be frank — this year stinks.

The late American singer/songwriter/poet Merle Haggard once asked, “Are the good times really over for good?”

I don’t know.

All I know to do is once again channel the spirit of the late sportswriter Furman Bisher’s Thanksgiving Day columns and give it a shot —

I’m thankful …

for the outdoors and that I don’t live in a place where the temperature drops below zero and never rises above 110;

for crowd noise piped into sporting events and even those cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands — it’s better than nothing;

for masks — Yes. I am. I don’t give a rat’s fanny what others think politically because I care about the little old ladies pushing their carts around the grocery store. I want to continue seeing them.

for owning a home with a fireplace;

for toilet paper on the shelves;

for the old Maytag dryer my wife and I recently replaced — it lasted almost 21 years. We bought another Maytag;

for black iron skillets, especially the ones purchased at an estate sale;

for old steeples that still point up to remind me which way to look when I’m feeling down;

for YouTube videos as a go-to virtual teacher whether I’m trying to improve my golf game or master a hot pan of cornbread;

for Swiftwick socks — the best I’ve ever owned;

for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, ambulance drivers and all healthcare professionals on the frontline;

for one-liner jokes like: You have two parts of the brain, “left” and “right” — in the left side, there’s nothing right and in the right side, there’s nothing left;

for more one-liner jokes like: Don’t spell “part” backwards. It’s a “trap;”

for people who still subscribe to a newspaper;

for family, friends, dogs and occasionally cats;

for my father-in-law Randy Turner who we lost last week to cancer at the age of 63. His kindness, his love, his selfless giving spirit to others and more will forever live through his family — I’m hurting too much right now to write more about him, but I will soon;

for the prayers and love surrounding all of those who will have an empty chair (or two, or three …) when they gather during this time of year;

May you all stay safe, healthy and find your way through these difficult days. Happy Thanksgiving — pandemic-style!

Selah!