On the Op-Ed page of yesterday's Times, Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, castigated Americans (gently, of course) for our generally unthankful ways. And she's right: we're remarkably adept at complaining, whinging, naysaying, and fault finding, and much less so at actually feeling--much less expressing--gratitude. While I won't claim that I can (or have any desire to) completely drop my sometimes cynical ways (as long as the Republicans are in power, I will continue to complain), I agree with the lovely Miss Manners that I should make some room for pure, unadulterated thanks.

So I'm thankful, first and foremost, for the lives of Poppa and Nonnie (literally, where would I be without them?), and I'm thankful that those lives ended more or less painlessly and peacefully. It goes without saying that I'm thankful for the rest of my huge, crazy, adoring family, thankful for their incredible insistence on bearing me up when I needed it most this year, thankful for the time I've been (and will be) able to spend with them.

I'm dazedly thankful for what seems to be the stubborn persistence of love, despite (or perhaps because of) the complications and messes and uncertainties that get in its way.

I'm thankful that when I sat down the other day to write out the invite list for my holiday party, I was pleasantly amazed by how quickly it grew long, a subtle but unmistakeable sign that however alone I might occasionally feel, I really am surrounded here by a sweet and ever-present group of friends. I'm further thankful for the knowledge that that list would grow exponentially were I to include friends who don't live here.

I'm thankful for how much of the world I've seen this year--the Mediterranean, the Corbieres, the wonders of Barcelona, the mountains of Slovenia, two Canadian provinces at the same time from the top of a mountain ridge--and how much there is to see in the years ahead.

And finally, finally, I'm thankful that Otis was dead right when he told me, sitting in the Bar on Castro at my lowest point this year, 'The human body is built to survive.' Indeed, it is so built, and this one, at least, is surviving. For that, Miss Manners, I am humbly, unquestionably grateful.