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The Country Shop Winnetkdisplays Thanksgiving theme one it's display windows. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

The Country Shop in Winnetka displays a Thanksgiving theme in one of it's display windows. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 24, 2012 7:10AM

What a year. A contentious presidential race; a hurricane named Sandy that jolted Jersey and savaged Staten Island; the ongoing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. drama has resulted in a resignation; a heroic general’s career got bazooka’d by a buff babe.

But . . . once again, it is time to dig out the old Sneed list of reasons to be grateful.

◆ A son named Patrick and a soon–to-be-daughter-in-law named Dr. Sarah Rebecca Peglow.

◆ The ability to vote.

◆ My job.

◆ Being in the Chicago newspaper business for 47 years.

◆ Books.

◆ Kindness.

◆ Growing up in Mandan, N.D., and watching Mandan resident Heidi Heitkamp just get elected the state’s first female senator.

◆ The crucible endured by former Gov. George Ryan and his late wife, Lura Lynn, during her battle with cancer and subsequent death while he was in prison.

◆ The courage of foster parents who have the guts to love a child they may one day lose; the adoptive family of Baby Richard, who may someday come to know the love they have for him.

◆ The Missouri River.

◆ My grandfather’s backyard.

◆ The comfort of animals.

◆ A father’s legacy, my garden.

◆ Trees.

◆ Peonies.

◆ Sparrows.

◆ Comedian Jack Benny.

◆ The quiet of an early morning newspaper with a coffee chaser at the Three Tarts Bakery in Northfield . . . or a one-shot latte at Blair Cooke’s uniquely original Alchemy coffee house in Wilmette.

◆ The stunningly beautiful, classy, amazing window displays at the Country Shop in Winnetka.

◆ The Sonoran Desert at 8 a.m.; shadows at 5 p.m.

◆ The classic Arizona Inn in Tucson, my five-day respite each year with my adorable sister, Jacie.

◆ The White Stallion Ranch outside Tucson run by a family named True.

◆ The late Monsignor Ignatius McDermott, the angel of Skid Row; retired Chicago Police Chaplain Tom Nangle; the “Lord’s Prayer” sung during mass at Northwestern University’s Sheil Chapel; my personal angel, Bobby DiTuri.

◆ “Midsomer Murders” and an all-day long mystery series on WYCC-TV.

◆ My obsession with World War II.

◆ Poetry.

◆ Photographer Val Mazzenga.

◆ The memory of one particular night at the Red Cabbage Cafe in Puerto Vallarta; crossing the border for the swill of an ice-cold margarita at La Roca cafe in Nogales, Mexico.

◆ The friendship of attorney Joan M. Hall and Janet Diederich; travels with Leslie Hindman and Dorothy Collin.

◆ The memory of Anne Keegan when we were young mothers.

◆ Bees.

◆ Crickets but not in my basement.

◆ The High Hens and their leader, former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin.

◆ Ald. Ed Burke at the piano singing “Who Put The Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.” Joe Hannon’s book list; Christmas cassoulet; Michelle Klarchek’s apple pie; Kate van Dyke’s Christmas Cookie party; Carol Carrol’s indomitable spirit . . . when she’s not being bossy.

◆ And the English poet Chidiock Tichborne, who penned “Elegy” in 1586:

“My tale was heard and it was not told,

“My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green,

“My youth is spent and yet I am not old,

“I saw the world and yet I was not seen,

“My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,

“And now I live, and now my life is done.”

For this, I give thanks . . . always.

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Jamie Lee Curtis, 54; Mariel Hemingway, 51; and Scarlett Johansson, 28.

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