30 Days of Thankfulness: The condensed version

Over the past few days, my Facebook wall has been covered with posts similar to this one: Day 2 — Today I'm thankful for my puppy dog, because he cheers me up when I've had a rough day.

Posts like this one are a part of what Facebookers are calling "30 Days of Thankfulness," an intentional effort, of course centered around November being the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, to remember to be thankful.

While I'm not one to remember to do something daily, I decided to sit down and put together my 30 Days of Thankfulness list over the course of 30 minutes. I figure it's more efficient this way, but I do hope that throughout the course of this month, the list, which I'm about to share with you, reminds me how fortunate I am.

The wonderful thing I experienced while compiling this list is that there were things I had to leave off. I wanted to find a broad list that covered many categories and showed the thankfulness I feel across the spectrum of my life. But I'm so blessed, I had to cross things off that I'm thankful for to narrow it to 30!

So, while these aren't the 30 things I'm most thankful for, they give you a good feel of what I am thankful in so many ways.

Without further adieu, here's my list of 30 things I'm thankful for, titled 30 Minutes of Thankfulness (that hopefully lead to a lifetime of thankfulness).

The five standards: While they seem to be the first items on everyone's lists, no list of my own would be complete without these five standards.
n My faith, because without it, I feel like a lost sheep, wandering. It is the thing I am most thankful for, because it helps me through any storm.

• My family, because they have been there for me through thick and thin, no matter what.

• My friends, because much like my family, they've always been there with a laugh or a hug, whichever I most needed.

• The fact that I live in the United States of America and that so many men and women have fought to make this country what it is, because it is truly a blessing.

• Memories, because without them, I wouldn't know who I really am, and I'd have no idea who I'm striving to be.

The five necessities: There are certain things that we all need to survive, and for these five, I'm thankful that I don't have to put myself through any great discomfort to come across them.

• Food on a plate, because there are so many who struggle to find enough to eat every single day, around the world and right here in Punxsutawney.
n Heat, because there are so many who can't adjust the thermostat to make it warmer while they sleep.

• Air conditioning, because as miserable as the humidity is in these parts, there are so many who go without air conditioning and have to weather the heat AND the humidity.

• Clean water, because there are entire cities around the world that don't know if the water they're drinking is contaminated.

• Shelter, because even though I'm not living in my new house yet, I have a home and many other folks who would be willing to provide for me if something happened to my home.

Five people: While the list of people I'm incredibly thankful for is miles long, these five came to mind while I was compiling my list.
n Grammy Great, because in my 30 years, she's taught me and so many others so many of the lessons that I know she's learned in her 97-plus years.

• My niece Emma, because though she's not quite two years old, she's taught me a whole new level of what it means to care for someone you just met.

• Rev. Leo Cramer, because I still remember so many of the "Moments with the Children" messages he taught me when I was younger.

• Don & Carolyn Jordan, because whether it comes from a handshake or a hug, it's always great to have someone outside of your family who you can just tell cares for you unconditionally, for no apparent reason.

Five everyday things: It can be so easy to take the everyday things for granted, but these five are things I'm certainly thankful for.

• My car, because the walk/bike ride from Reynoldsville for work each day would just be undoable.

• My job, because I know there are so many who wish they could be working who can't.

• Music, because I know that any day I can turn on the radio and be moved in a way I could never expect.

• Sports, because so much of what I've learned about life has come from lessons that I learned on the court or watched play out on the television during a game.

• Freedom, because I live in a country where I'm encouraged to be the person who I was created to be.

Five intangible concepts: While these five things aren't necessarily able to be grasped, I'm thankful for them all nonetheless.

• Grace, because as I said, my faith is the one thing I'm most thankful for, and without grace, my faith wouldn't be what it is.

• Joy, because we all need to experience joy — contentedness no matter the circumstances — to find happiness.

• Sorrow, because if there were no such thing as sorrow, I'd have no way of knowing how amazing joy is.

• Peace, because the ability to rise above our circumstances comes from a realization that we aren't responsible for making the world go 'round.

• Miracles, because when it all comes down to it, we all need something to believe in.

Five not-so-serious things: We all take ourselves too seriously sometimes, but we should all be thankful for the things that we enjoy that aren't necessarily "serious" in nature.

• Cherry-flavored anything, because I think that cherries simply make the world a better place.

• Coloring books, because they make it so easy to feel like a kid again.
n Birthdays, because they remind me of just how lucky we all are to have made one more year on this revolving, rotating rock.

• Ice cream, because, let's face it, it makes everything better, from upset stomachs to birthday parties.

• Last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful for beef jerky, because not only does it remind me of my grandfather, it's also my answer to that age-old question, "If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

While there are thousands of things we can all be thankful for, sitting down to write a list of them is never easy. I hope that if you're reading this, it sparked in your mind a few of the things you're thankful for and makes you think a bit more about thankfulness this week, month, year... you get the picture.

Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit.