This will be the last Observer for 2014, and The Observer has a lot of things to be thankful for in our 40th year on Planet Earth, system Sol, Milky Way Galaxy.

That makes this our 40th Christmas, come to think of it, and 40th New Year's. We're thankful for that. We're thankful, belatedly, for our 40th Halloween and 40th Thanksgiving, 40th Memorial Day and 40th National Pancake Day. Our 40th St. Patrick's Day is still to come, and we plan to tie one on. A warning to local bars: Stock up on Irish whiskey and beer the exact color and viscosity of motor oil. The Observer is ready to party!

We're thankful that the sun has not up and gone supernova. We're thankful for Junior and Spouse, the two loves of this life. We're thankful our cat isn't the size of a liger. Junior asked what would happen if such was the case once, and we told him he was old enough to know the truth: That if Mr. Kitty was suddenly zapped to pony size, he would soon be sleeping off a meal of us in front of the heater vent, our licked skulls scattered nearby so they can be used for paw-batting diversion between naps. Even so, The Observer is thankful for our non-liger-sized cat, unable to eat us and thus content to snore his kitty-cat dreams away on the ottoman by our feet.

We're thankful for pastrami, and spicy mustard, and pepperoncini, though our tum-tum is not. We're thankful for never taking up smoking. We're thankful that we don't have the desire to hang out in opium dens, and that opium dens aren't really a thing anymore. We're thankful that we never watched a single, solitary episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo," from the time it premiered until it was canceled following Mama June's dalliance with a pedo. Our lust for experience is powerful, sons and daughters, but it has limits. Tobacco, opium and hicksploitation TV shows are apparently it.

The Observer is thankful for the rain on the roof of The Observatory. We're thankful that the waist-thick oak limb that fell on the joint back during the spring delivered only a glancing blow instead of busting her in two like Moby Dick laying into the Pequod. We're thankful for the pink Starburst flavor, anchovies and black licorice. Not all at once, mind you. We're thankful for the dreams of Dad from time to time, 13 years in his grave but still stopping by for a visit every once in a while. In the latest one, we were in a restaurant. He told me that he'd just been appointed a federal judge. When I went to give him a celebratory fist bump, he took my hand and opened it, then held it there on the table between us, between our sweating beers and the salt and pepper shakers, between all the long years of our lives, two fathers we. I am thankful to have known him. I am always thankful to see his face.

The Observer is thankful for the following words: steamboat, hoosegow, darling, rutabaga, squirreled, thorough, jumble and poached. We are thankful for our liver, lungs, kidneys and heart, laboring on in the secret dark. We're thankful for our bed, and the white pane of the ceiling above the bed. Thankful for morning light, and coffee, and sugar for the coffee. Thankful for the bathroom mirror, sink and the unblinking eye of the drain.

We are thankful for our sight and hearing, though we know we'd get by without them. We're thankful for liquor. We're thankful for the days when snow is forecast, and the way everybody mentally cocks their head on those days, listening for the first flake on the roof. Thankful for seeing boats far out on the water, and for the feeling of wishing we were in those boats, just for a second, and thankful a moment later that we're not. We're thankful we are who we are, the sum of a thousand transactions.

We're thankful for the vocal stylings of Miss Billie Holiday and for "Norwegian Wood." Thankful for pianissimo, for "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," "Holy Diver" and a bunch of late '80s hair metal that's too embarrassing to name here. We're thankful for the inclined plane, the lever and wheel. We're thankful we're not one of those poor bastards who live simultaneously in the shining future and the bitter past.

And The Observer is thankful for you, friend. Yes, you. The one and only. We're thankful to be alive and above ground, so that we can say this: We're thankful you're still around. Best wishes in 2015.



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