Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can finish a column in about 1- hours. Sometimes it takes several hours.

And sometimes, for columns such as this one, it takes a full year.

My Thanksgiving column takes that long to write because I continue to write a little bit of it in my heart almost every day.

My most used prayer is only three words: Thank you, God. I probably say it at least a few times a day, followed by the specific reasons why I am most grateful.

When I see a blue sky and feel the warmth of the sun, I say thank you.

I say thank you for each spectacular sunset, for each smile from a stranger's child.

Occasionally, I'm up early enough to watch my world emerge from total darkness to light. Each sunrise is different and each one makes me appreciative of the simple beauty in life.

This week, I turned on the coffee pot in total darkness then watched the first tinge of color streak across the sky. Soon, the sun proclaimed its reign in a blaze of glory.

I watched the dark water in the lagoon behind my house turn golden from the reflection of the sun. As I inhaled the peace of early morning, two little wrens sang a song of welcome.

How could I not say thank you to the Creator of it all?

My husband has absolutely no idea how many times during the day I say a private thank you for his extraordinary thoughtful ways. Sometimes I tell him, of course. But there are so many times he doesn't know that I am overwhelmed by his sweet and affectionate natureā€¦so many times I whisper a profound thank you for what I have in him.

It's the same way with others who have blessed me throughout the years by their presence in my life.

I say thank you in my heart whenever I remember a particular person who has touched my life in some way. Most times, they don't even know I am thinking of them with gratitude because they have been out of my life for years.

Sometimes, it's the smallest of things that triggers a grateful memory of someone from my past.

Yesterday it was the fresh aroma and the texture of thick pumpernickel bread that brought to mind the tasty sandwiches a neighbor used to make for me when my mother worked. Although we moved far away from that caring neighbor, her kindness stays with me when I remember how she reached out to a little kid she didn't even know all that well.

Remembered acts of kindness like that encourage me to be on the lookout for opportunities when I can help a relative stranger.

The smell of homemade bread also makes me say a prayer of thanksgiving for a friend who frequently shares her homemade goodies with me. We don't live close so we see each other only on occasion. But she is always in my heart, along with others who have given me the gift of friendship through the years.

I sometimes say thank you for the caring family doctor who was more than a physician for my family and me while we lived in Palmerton.

I say thank you, too, for the two dedicated chiropractors who kept me functioning without pain during my Pennsylvania years. They always had time to help someone who needed them, even if they had to keep their own family waiting.

They don't make doctors like that in my new state. If they do, they are hiding from me.

For those of you who live in the Carbon County or Lehigh Valley area, be grateful for the first-rate physicians who are in medicine for more than monetary reasons.

I say many prayers of thanksgiving for people I haven't seen in years and may never see again. I am especially grateful for Mary, a soul sister who was there for me through many turbulent years.

"If you need me," Mary would say, "or if you just want to talk, turn your light on and I will be there." She always was, even though she never had a moment to call her own.

I'm retired now for over five years but I still give thanks for the men who headed Pencor and who turned the workplace into a caring family. They made me so proud to work for them and although I may never see them again, I carry them in my heart.

It's like that with so many people who have touched my life in the past. It's never a case of "out of sight, out of mind" because warm memories continue to remind me of how I have been blessed throughout my life.

Even when a friendship ends, its essence lingers in happy memories. My best friend for 40 years ended our friendship for reasons I never understood. But the fun and laughs we shared during those years, the caring and the love once part of our friendship, is not erased. I am thankful for having experienced its richness.

When I combine my thankfulness for those from my past with my gratitude for those who presently grace to my life, it's no wonder it takes an entire year to write a Thanksgiving column.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving while you reflect on your own blessings.