Last year, I wrote about a family Thanksgiving celebration in Hayward, Wis., during which everything that could possibly go wrong did. The purpose was to shift focus to the important things in life like family and community, since the material and trivial and uncontrollable concerns of living can drive us bananas.

Yet, as usual, I was wrong by at least half, since little things also give us comfort and happiness. Without small pleasures, life would be, well, bleak.

Therefore, it's important on Thanksgiving, both for one's disposition as well as for general human relations, to acknowledge those small things that enrich and enliven our existence:

• Such as the star or planet in the eastern sky that I see most mornings before sunrise when it's dark and quiet and I'm alone. I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty certain it's Venus, and it gives daily assurance that there is something bigger to which we are all subordinate.

• Or my old colleague and friend Ron Jerak whose amalgam of humor, irony and creativity make his e-mails an anticipated daily event.

• Ice-cold beer, which with steak on the barbecue, sates me with a dose of what I will miss when I don't get to heaven.

• No-alcohol beer: methadone for retired softball players.

• One cat commenting to another about a snarling dog chained to a post: "How come the most ignorant among us are always the loudest?" I'm thankful for this and all New Yorker cartoons that with a bit of black ink and a single sentence can make any person, no matter the mood or disposition, laugh out loud in an empty room -- reassuring proof that human beings are unique among all creatures.

• For Starbucks and Seattle's Best, for making morning a religious ceremony.

• Dogs with big heads that run up to you, stop, then stretch at your feet.

• Lakes, oceans and rivers, for their mystery, wonder and bounty. And for never failing to make me quiet.

• Boats, the most gracefully beautiful man-made creations. For me, Disney World has never had anything over a marina.

• Today's massive communication network that permits everyone from the Associated Press to the teenager skateboarding down the sidewalk to not only read this morning's top story in China but also to fact-check it.

• Y-Pines pizza (near Hayward), with cheese as subtly flavorful as the finest wine.

• Dawn anywhere in this country, inspiring plans, energy and hope.

• Thursday Night Football: a hungrily greeted fix from the NFL Network. No more going cold-turkey Tuesday to Sunday.

• For my reader(s): for letting me presume a connection.

• For three children: Mike, Jack and Janet -- for not being in prison. Also for being smart and funny and brave and independent.

• Will Ferrell, in the tradition of the Native American Trickster, who makes it OK for all of us to goof.

• Charlie, Jimmy, Rosie, Net, Pat, Sherman and Nancy: my five brothers and two sisters, who made team sports possible in our back yard, and who can still make me laugh today.

• Getting a 5-pound slab of a newspaper on Sunday morning -- news, color photos, funnies, advertising, and enough separate sections to last into Monday.

• Black Sheep pizza: crispy, chewy, fresh and sizzling hot from the oven.

• For my mother, Gertrude, who baked 120 turkeys in her lifetime, give or take a few. This Thanksgiving she is 92 years old, and someone is baking one for her for a change.

• Early morning cold, when you can smell the crisp, vaguely sweet hint of the season's first snow.

• The arrival of that first snow, matting and muting suburban cacophony with poetry and beauty.

• For Saturday-night dates with Marianne. Two thousand and counting.

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David McGrath, of Hayward, Wis., is professor emeritus of English, College of DuPage, and author of "The Territory."