Posted by: bree1972 | November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Top Ten 11/21/2012

Hello Everyone!

On Thanksgiving our table will be set for 26 – well, make that tables!  I can’t wait to see all the cousins (from my daddy’s side)  and their families, and I’m hoping all of you spend Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends – making wonderful memories and storing them in your heart. 

Here at the Horton’s, we’ll be remembering those who are celebrating the holiday in Heaven, and in spirit they will take their places at our Thanksgiving table.  We are here because of them.

Below is a repost of last Thanksgiving’s blog entitled “A Thanksgiving Top Ten”.  I’ve been trying to think if there is anything I would change, but it still stands as written a year ago.

I’ll see you back here on Monday, December 3!


Not being a regular television watcher, I don’t keep up with much on the small screen (or the big screen, as so many of them are these days), but I do know David Letterman has a “Top Ten” list for just about anything of relevance in today’s world.  Sitting on the sun porch this morning, sipping coffee and watching our birds happily munch away at “Horton’s Fine Feathers Cafe”, I conjured up my “Top Ten” list of blessings.  Here’s what I’m thankful for – from cherished to most cherished.

Number 10:  Sunrises, Sunsets – and Everything In Between.  Whether in Georgia or on Mackinac Island, I pretty much miss sunrise each morning, choosing instead to snooze right through it unless I have an early morning appointment somewhere.  Thank goodness there are others less lazy than I who bound up, ready to tackle the day and verify for all of us late risers that the sun does indeed come up each morning – signaling the end of night and the start of another day that the Lord has made – just for us.  Between the sunrise and sunset, I’m thankful for every single moment I’m given – to love deeply and to live fully.  As I’ve grown older, the need to cherish each moment God grants me has grown.  The whirlwind of younger days has been replaced with an appreciation of the finer things in life – sun sparkling on water, trees budding in the spring, the kaleidoscope of leaves in the fall, the long stretch and curve of dirt roads in the country, the clip-clop of horses hooves on Mackinac streets, the natural wonders of the woods in the South and in the North, the song of birds.  My comforts now lie mainly in what God has made, not in the man-made, rapidly replaced “stuff” we invent for our pleasures.  Sunsets herald the end of another day, the peace of slumber, and the hope that the daytime hours were well-spent – and at least somewhat pleasing to our Maker.

Number 9:  The Joy of the Double-Nest.  Ted and I both know how blessed we are to enjoy summers in Michigan and winters in Georgia.  When telling strangers about our life-style, we often hear the phrase, “You have the best of both worlds!”  It’s true, and we give thanks every day.  There may come a day when what we do is no longer practical – or possible – but for now it keeps us looking forward to every minute of every day.  When we returned home a few weeks ago and went to our doctor for annual physicals, he said to each of us separately, “I predict the six months you spend on that island will add years to your life.”  All our blood work, our x-rays, our EKG’s – everything was perfect.  No cars equals more exercise.  Note to self in Georgia – drive less, walk more.

Number 8:  Retirement.  What a wonderful time of life!  When I was very young I once said, “We do it all wrong.  We should be free to enjoy life when we’re young – maybe from college to age 35 – then go to work and work till we die.”  Oh, the stupidly of youthful thoughts!  How could I have possibly imagined the joy that would come from having worked and done a job well, while my brain was clear enough to handle it.  As a young person, how could I possibly have known the joy of the “light at the end of the tunnel” that would flicker more brightly with each year – something to look forward to.  Retirement – the joy of free days to do nothing if that is my choice, the joy of volunteering, the joy of grandchildren, the joy of being old and feeling good and NOT having to go to work.  I sure am glad the system works as it does – not as I once thought it should.

Number 7:  Pets.  What would we do without them!   Bear and Maddie and all those before them . . . Bud, Shotzie, Calico, Whiskers, Tyler.  They fill our days with undiluted happiness, even when they are at their most annoying.  They bring us unconditional love while they live and heart-wrenching sorrow when they leave us.  Our lives would not be as joyful without them, and when my final hours on this earth approach, I pray I will spend them surrounded by family – and with a good dog’s head resting under my hand.

Number 6:  Friends.  I believe you can have only one BFF (“best friend forever” – for those not into the modern initials of the texting world) –  mine is Helen McCorvey.  I don’t mention her often, but she knows she’s the sister I never had and always longed for.  She’s there for me always, knows all my secrets . . . and loves me anyway.  We don’t talk or see each other nearly enough these days; but I know – and she knows – that a phone call would bring us running to each other to help with anything.  Helen taught me English when I was a Junior in high school, and one day she praised something I wrote for a special assignment.  That praise planted the seed for what I do today.  Over the years she’s been my teacher, my boss, and my mentor.  Now she’s my best friend forever – and when I finish this sentence, I’m going to get up and call her.

Close friends come and go throughout our lives, and I’m thankful for each and everyone.  The ones who stick through all the ups and downs are the ones I remember and the ones who hold such a special place in my heart.  They’re the ones I call when I need a pep talk or want to brag about my children or grandchildren.  They’re the ones, although I don’t see them for months – or talk to them for weeks – don’t hold it against me, and pick up the next conversation as though we only spoke yesterday.  In the close-knit communities of the lake in Georgia and the little island of Mackinac, it’s those close friends I long to get back to when we are away.  In a perfect world, I’d haul them all back and forth with us each year.  Practicality prevents that, of course, but it sure would make both our “nests” pretty much perfect.

There’s another group that must be mentioned in this friend “thankfulness” list – those of you who have become networked together through these two blogs – one in Georgia and one on Mackinac Island.  You’re such a loyal group – over 1200 strong in Michigan and over 700 strong in Georgia.  I’m thankful for each of you.  A few years ago, none of us knew each other, and most of us will never meet face-to-face or even speak on the phone.  Nevertheless, we are friends.  We care for each other through our mutual love of a place.  I think that’s pretty doggone special!

Number 5:  Family.  Family is everything.  As an only child I always longed for sisters and brothers, and loved spending time with my first cousins (most of my aunts and uncles had large families).  Life being what it is, we’ve all ebbed and flowed into each other’s lives at different times over the years, and it is only since the deaths of the uncles and aunts that we’ve really become close again.  I’m so thankful for that, and I love each of them with a love born from the blood that courses through our veins.  We are kin.  They are my roots.

Cousins are very important in Ted’s family also, and I’m so thankful for Cathy and Charlie, who come to see us each summer.  Another cousin from Ted’s family came into our lives in the last few months.  After almost 30 years, Ted reconnected with a first cousin in Ft. Thomas, KY, and I am so thankful they’ve found each other once again.   Jan was one of the the children he played with at his grandparents cottage in the Les Cheneaux Island in Michigan – during long. lazy summers spent fishing and playing in the woods of the U.P.   What a blessing to reconnect with family after such a long time apart.  We’re hoping to visit with each other next summer, and what fun it would be to have Cathie and Charlie, and Jan and her family all in Michigan together after all these years.

Number 4:  Parents.  Mine were the best.  Tom Brokak called them “the greatest generation”, and I whole-heartedly agree.  As young marrieds, my mom and dad knew all about pinching pennies, and whatever they had was earned with long hours and lots of toil.  When daddy went off to war, mama went to work – and when the war was over, daddy came home and jumped right back into earning a living for his family.  My childhood was filled with love – but not the kind that spoils.  There were many “things” I thought I would truly die if I didn’t have – but I didn’t get them, and I’m still here.  We went to church together, and they taught me – through demonstration – their work ethic, which I’ve tried to emulate.  They loved me unconditionally, and of all the things I miss about them since they’ve left this earth, it is that unconditional love I miss the most.  I think about them dozens of times a day and talk to them all the time – just like they are here.  I will see them again, and what a joyous day that will be!

Number 3:  Ted.  When Ted and I married, my boys were 16 and 12.  What could he possibly have been thinking – marrying me when part of the “package” included two hormone-pumping teenagers!  But marry me he did, and we’ve never been sorry.  Ted brought a man’s 24-hour-a-day perspective to our home, and my young men thrived on it.  Even to this day, when we’re all together, I’m told of something that happened “back in the day” that Jason and Blake went to Ted with – not to me.  Does that hurt me?  Not one bit.  I thank God every day that we’re together.  Ted loves me, loves my children, laughs with me, cooks every night, volunteers because he wants to give back to the community, and is the most fair, unprejudiced person I’ve ever known.  He’s also the most stubborn man I’ve ever known and sometimes the most annoying.  I love him.  He is my rock.

Number 2:  Children and Grandchildren.  Our friend Chris Ann from Michigan calls her daughters- and sons-in-law “bonus children”.  I’d never heard that term before, but Ted and I immediately claimed it – for in-laws AND each other’s children.  Julie, Ted’s daughter, is my bonus daughter, and my children are Ted’s bonus sons.  Sounds so much better than step-children, doesn’t it!

Jason and Blake are my heart, and God must have thought I was pretty special to bless me with these two.  Are they perfect?  Oh, please!  They caused every single gray hair I have to spend hundreds of dollars a year covering up.  But, as my parents loved me, so I love them.

Jason’s unflinching love of everything life has to offer partially rubbed off on me in my later years.  It was Jason who first pulled me onto a plane when I was well into my 40’s.  He couldn’t believe I’d never flown, and practically man-handled me into a tiny sea-plane in Panama City one summer.  The flight was almost half-over before I ever opened my eyes, but from that day on, I’ve loved to fly.  He can make me laugh even in the worst of a bad mood.  One of the happiest days of my life was when he married beautiful Blair.  She compliments him perfectly, as he does her.  They are a great team, and I thank God they found each other.  Jason is my favorite oldest son, and I am so proud of him.

Blake is the strong, silent type – until you get to know him.  Then he’s strong, and not-so-silent.  He is serious about his faith in God, has an abiding patience with life I wish I had, and can bring calm to most any storm.  He seems to care not a whit for creature comforts, preferring to live with a few necessities and go with the flow.  His years serving in China taught him a deep appreciation for other cultures, but he loves the United States and is so enjoying being back here.  Whether he will ever know earthly wealth is something only God knows, but even now he is one of the richest people I know.  Blake is my favorite youngest son, and I am so proud of him.

Julie – my bonus daughter.  If I had carried a daughter within me for nine months, I could not have asked for one more beautiful or sweet or loving than Julie.  She is a constant amazement to me.  I’ve watched and listened over the years as she and and bonus-son Matt have raised our precious grandchildren, Jordan and Matthew, and often wondered, “Where did she learn all this stuff?”  I think she could write a best-selling book on mothering, and I’d be glad to be her agent. Together, Julie and Matt also make a great team.

Number 1:  God.  When I was nine I joined the First Baptist Church of Sylvester.  I was caught up in the annual revival meeting, and it seemed to be the “right thing to do” at that time in my childhood.  I was baptized the next Sunday, and my parents were so happy.  Did I have a clue what I was really doing?  No.  Oh, I called myself a Christian from that time on, but as years went by, I took all of it for granted.  Church was someplace I was expected to be on Sunday mornings, but when I left my parents’ home for marriage, other things became more important.  Children brought me back into the church because I knew they should be there.  Divorce took me away again.

Many years later, on a lonely road between our lake house and my job in Albany, early one morning in March as the sun was rising over a cotton field, I pulled over to the side of the road.  Blake had gone to China for the first time months before, and I could not stop worrying about him.  My every thought seemed to be for his safety, and it was affecting my whole life – my relationship with Ted, with friends, with my mother, with my job – everything.  One of the things I promised myself I would do when Blake left was to read the Bible straight through, and I started that process on January 1.  The more I read each morning, the more I realized my relationship with the Lord was not as it should be.  I knew I hadn’t made Him first in my life in years, and I knew I was miserable.  That morning, sobbing on the side of the road, I asked forgiveness for the sins of my life – naming them, at least all the big ones, and putting all the others under “and everything else I’ve ever done that I shouldn’t have” phrase.  I asked Jesus to come into my life that morning for the very first time – at least fully knowing what I was asking.  My next prayer was for Blake’s safety in China, and even before I could say “Amen”, a peace unlike anything I’d ever known filled me.

Do I still struggle with sin?  Oh yes.  But I know for sure now that when Christ died on that cross, he was dying for me – so my sins would be forgiven.  I know one day I will meet Him in Heaven, along with all the loved ones that have gone before. God is my anchor, and with Him, all things are possible.

God bless.



  1. I remember reading this list from last year – but I am so glad that you reposted it so I could read it again. I am always amazed at how I can read something at one time in my life and then read it later and it is like 2 completely different stories – although the words on the page are exactly the same. I realize that it is because of the person I am at the time that I am reading it.

    I believe that last year, I was in the middle of a pretty bad depression and I remember reading this list with a bit of jealousy as I was so deep into the pit that I don’t believe that I felt I had much to truly be grateful for. And I felt jealous of you for having many of the things that I longed for and wondered if I was ever going to have. But, this year, as I read the same words, I find that I am not jealous – but I am happy for you as well as myself. Happy for you that you have so many blessings to be thankful for – and happy for me that I have come to a place to be able to see the many things that I have to be thankful and grateful for. And I also now have hope for the future – something I have not had for a very long time.

    Reading your blogs has helped me to see into a life that is so close to the one I long for. Knowing that someone else is living that life and enjoying it so much is very inspirational for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving Bree, you are one of the many things I am thankful for this year. I do so appreciate all of the time and energy you put into your blogs. I hope you know how much it has helped me to get through some very dark days.

    • Dear Tina,
      Thank you so, so much for your comments – I feel humbled beyond words. Tina, I feel like I’ve come to know you over the years, and I realize that making a home for yourself on Mackinac is one of your fondest dreams. I pray that one day you realize that dream, but I also pray that your happiness is found in people and things that surrounds you in your present world. I think, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that we have to make our happiness wherever we are. We have to take what God has given us and see where His plan for us leads. There have been many, many days in my life that I’ve felt far from happiness and really close to despair. I was a single mom for 13 years, working in a job that was just a step above minimum wage. It was hard, and I’ve spent lots of nights crying into my pillow and thinking, “Is this it? Is this what my life will be like forever?” But I had my boys, and I couldn’t let them down – so everyday I got up and started over again. God has surely blessed me in my later years, but I realize now that if I hadn’t gone through the tears first, the joy I feel now wouldn’t be half as sweet. God bless you, Tina. In Christian love, Brenda

      • I understand what you are saying and I am (hopefully) coming out on the other side of some very hard and trying times. I do see how – looking back – many of the things I have gone through are going to work out for good in the future. I have to admit that I have learned many, many things in the past couple of years that I can see being of great benefit for me as I move forward. And I am very excited to see what the future holds. Have a wonderful holiday – we will have to meet up this next summer for sure.

      • Would love to meet you this summer, Tina! Let’s make it happen.

  2. I was just going to thank you for such a heartfelt list..and tell you Happy Thanksgiving. However, I also need to thank Tina, for what she wrote- -it was also very touching. I hope both of you ladies have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season.

    • Amen, Sue.

  3. Dear Brenda,

    I’ve been blessed by your word for many moons…never knowing what to add or reply. But this I know on this gorgeous Thankgiving eve. The truth of Faith, Family, and Friends are what enable all of us to find and make our Home. We would all do well on tomorrow to remember those who are with out be it. Love,Food,Family…or the Faith to carry them through.

    Our Magic island tie run deep, dear Brenda, I remember running with my sibling through the large Lilacs as a small child….watching the moon fall into the water. On a summer nights at the point, wading in the beatifully cool waters of the straights. Oh so long ago! But those memories a mere heartbeat away. The family time, and laughing, as we rode our bikes through the “bat trees” back to waiting fresh cool beds!

    The rode trips to get to “Turtle Island”,as Momma called it. Back when air conditioning was rolling down the windows! I know now the laughter has begun. Oh and how 5 little girls long hair began to fly! The ride north packed for every season. For, you never knew what, you’d end up with!…. But, Daddy knew, “His Girls” had at least thier north country, island, smiles on!

    We are blessed to still have these memories to share generations on. Though we are just a small group this year we to will remember from where and who we we’re blest to come from. We will set an empty place as is custom for we never know… Stranger,friend,…may knock and they to will know “There is always room for one more!

    Live ~ Love ~ Laugh
    With an abundance of Thanksgiving Blessings

    • Beautiful memories, Theresa. Thank you for sharing.

    • Dear Brenda,

      I trust this finds you, Ted, and your hiking buddies Bear & Maddie…. Still so very full from your special Thanksgiving. It sounded wonderful back on ” The Ri’vah”! I loved your 10 so eloquently stated on my favorite holiday.

      How is Chris Ann? Please pass on our prayers and thoughts to her and her family. She is a uniquely special, beautiful, soul.

      Live ~ Love ~ Laugh
      Wishing you a beautiful day,
      P.S. it’s 27 up here in Tecumseh this morning, brr!

      • Theresa – Thanks so much for asking about Chris Ann. Since I posted that blog, she and Burton have gone back to Michigan and are staying right now with one of her daughters and her family. I thought she was already under Hospice care, but that only started when she got back to Michigan and as of 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening she had finally gotten a good mix of meds that made her comfortable. Thank you, God, for her pain relief. She is enjoying being with family and friends and other family members are flying in from all over to see her. They are hoping to be able to spend some time at their cottage in Mac City, but it just depends on what arrangements can be made. Please continue to keep her and her family in your prayers.

  4. I too remember reading your top 10 last year and now rereading it again Brenda. Loved it then and love it now. Thanks to Tina, Sue and Theresa for sharing your beautiful memories and touching stories with us. I so love the fact that we ARE all friends because of the ties we have with Brenda and this blog. I wish for you all a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving. Many blessings to you.
    Brenda, dear friend, enjoy your time with family and friends and have a blessed Thanksgiving. Love ya.

    • Happy Thanksgiving, Hilde and Bud! I know this holiday will be “especially” special with you two this year – lots to be thankful for! Love ya’ll!

      • You are absolutley right Brenda!! We just found out we are going to be grandparents again too! Hope you had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. 🙂

      • A new grandbaby! What wonderful news, Hilde!

  5. Your words so many times express how I’m feeling. I don’t always know how to put it in words, then I read something you’ve written, and there it is.Thank you for sharing. I get inspired and your words also make my dreams feel like they can come true. You have a true gift that lifts people up. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. Sending big hugs to Bear and Maddie!

  6. Thank you for posting that list…Give Ted my love…Happy Thanksgiving

  7. Happy “late” Thanksgiving!! I love reading your blog posts and just got caught up on them. No internet here for a while. Glad you are all settled back in to your Southern home. Happy Friday!!

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