Thanksgiving may be the best holiday ever. We get to visit with family and friends, enjoy a traditional dinner (however that is defined by your own family) and watch a few football games. It’s just long enough to totally relax and always puts me in a great mood.

But it’s also a time to acknowledge many of the people, places and things that I’m thankful for. My list is long – and growing – but here are ten of the people, places and things for which I am grateful.

  1. My family. I’m lucky to have two grown children and I’m very proud of each of them. They bring me great joy and I’ll always love them. I’m also grateful for my extended family – my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, cousins – to spend time with them at Thanksgiving is a blessing. Families are always at the top of my list.
  2. Friends are a close second, of course. They put up with me and don’t have to; I do the same with them. To know that a friend will answer a call any time of day or night is one of the best things in the world. And to hear from an old friend after many months or years, picking up right where we left off – that’s a really nice feeling.
  3. Living in the USA and having the right to vote. How great is it that each of us has the right to express our opinion – and have it count – when there are elections to determine who will provide leadership for our country. My candidates don’t always win, but that’s ok – I still get to have my voice heard.
  4. Working for Camp Fire. Having spent my entire life involved with this organization, I am grateful for the opportunities that Camp Fire has provided for me – the chance to learn, to lead, and to find my Sparks. I’m grateful that as Camp Fire professionals, we can provide programs for children, youth and adults that reflect our philosophy on youth development and that can have a profound impact on their lives.
  5. El Tesoro. We are so lucky to have this outstanding outdoor program site and to have the support of the greater community in providing such a magical place for children and families. Thousands of people participate in programs at Camp El Tesoro every year, with their friends at resident or day camp, with their schoolmates at an outdoor education program, or with their families or colleagues at other events at El Tesoro. Our lives are enriched by being outside, in the gorgeous setting on Fall Creek and the Brazos River that we know as El Tesoro. I’m thankful that Camp Fire volunteers and staff had the vision more than eighty years ago to establish El Tesoro and that over the years, it has become a haven for children and adults alike.
  6. Volunteers. Camp Fire volunteers are the best! This organization couldn’t function nearly as well without the hours and hours of work, wisdom and wealth provided by our volunteers in support of Camp Fire’s mission. From the chairman of the board, who offers not just leadership for the board, but guidance and encouragement for me, to the men and women who read to our children, cut brush at camp, organize fundraisers, and do all sorts of things, big and small, our volunteers make Camp Fire a better organization.
  7. Music. A classical symphony. A marching band. Grammy-award-winning vocalists. A classroom of toddlers singing silly songs slightly off-key. Regardless of the source, music brightens my day. Where would this world be without the gift of music?
  8. Animals. It was delightful at An Artists’ Christmas to see a giraffe face-to-face at the Fort Worth Zoo. It’s equally nice to watch some of the wildlife at our office – the wild turkey who appears this time every year (I think he realizes this is a safe place), the turtles coming up from the creek bank, or the red hawks who have discovered their reflections outside the accounting office. The armadillos, deer, and other creatures at camp are always a welcome sight, as they invite us into their habitat. Not to be overlooked, I’m also thankful for my rescue dog Grover, who provides unconditional love every single day.
  9. Education. The years spent in school and college were tremendous investments that continue to pay off. I’m thankful for the opportunity to keep learning – whether a new software program at work or a story read online, a conference about program quality or a new book on management skills, I’m grateful for the blessing of education.
  10. Finally, the little things. Sorting clean laundry and finding that no socks have gone missing. Scoring a front row parking place at Tom Thumb. The smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. A sunset. Bright red fall leaves. The extra hour of sleep when daylight savings time ended. Laughter. Smiles. Fun. A burger from Kincaid’s. I’m grateful for all the little things that happen every day. Life truly is good.

Have a nice Thanksgiving. I hope you will take time to be thankful for the blessings of life!

Ann Sheets is the President/CEO at Camp Fire First Texas. Ann has been a part of Camp Fire since childhood, beginning as a Blue Bird and later earning the WoHeLo Medallion as a youth member. As President/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas, Ann heads one of the largest and most active Camp Fire councils in the nation. She is a graduate of George Williams College, receiving a master’s degree in camping administration in 1977 and was recognized as the Distinguished Alumna in 2007. She was named the 2012 CFO of the Year – Non-Profit by the Fort Worth Business Press.