9 Things I’m Grateful For This Thanksgiving

November 18, 2012 | By | Comments (10)

This sourwood lights up the fall at Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Alabama. Photo by Steve Bender.

Thanksgiving is almost here, the chosen turkey is dead, and all that hard work Peyton Manning and I put in during the offseason has really paid off for Denver. Yet Grumpy has 9 more reasons to give thanks this year. Here they are.

#9. Grumpy is grateful the withering drought that devastated America’s Heartland this summer didn’t extend to his part of Alabama. Reading the struggles of those endeavoring to keep their gardens alive just underscored my belief that, with all due respect to crab fishermen on the Bering Sea, the most challenging and heart-breaking job of all is farming. A farmer can do his job perfectly, but if it doesn’t rain, it’s all for naught. A big Grumpy Shout-Out to all the nation’s farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables every day.

#8. Grumpy is grateful that when a junky auto owned by “those people across the street” burst into flame in the middle of the night and transformed itself into a molten pool of steel and rubber, it didn’t kill the nice rose bush planted planted next to it. Roses are tough.

Cruise ship lawn

Relaxed Grumpy. Photo by Judy Bender.

#7. Grumpy is grateful he infuriates so many people across the country for defending the All-American lawn. The very fact that frothing e-mailers insist their way of gardening is the only way and that anyone who plants a lawn is the Devil’s spawn convinces me to seek a mysterious place called “middle ground,” where extremes do not exist and black and white make gray.

If that makes you crazy, take a look at this! Grumpy is reclining on a a glorious, living lawn growing on the forward deck of the cruise ship, Celebrity Equinox, as it transits the Mediterranean. What have I done to deserve such ecstasy? Heaven, I’m in Heaven……….

#6. Grumpy is grateful that he marked his 29th year at Southern Living. The fact that I’ve been sitting down at my desk every morning for such a long time can mean only one thing. Like Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense,” I’m dead and just don’t know it. Hey…….maybe I’m not on a cruise ship after all. That’s so unfair.

Giant marconi peppers

‘Giant Marconi’ peppers expertly grown by Grumpy. Photo by Steve Bender.

#5. Grumpy is grateful he planted sweet “Giant Marconi’ peppers in the front garden this year. Boy, did they produce! My freezer in the basement is stuffed with ziplock bags filled with these babies, and I cook with them all the time, whether I’m making Tiki Masala, Cuban black beans, spaghetti sauce, whatever. Definitely going to plant them next year. Have you priced red peppers in the grocery store?

Survival room

See you suckers in 7 years! Photo by Steve Bender.

#4. Grumpy is grateful that his son, Brian, is coming home from college for the first time to help build our underground survival vault in anticipation of the impending collapse of global civilization. We’ll stock it with all the vital supplies we’ll need to endure 7 years of chaos and deprivation, such as beer, sports DVD’s, my personal copy of Passalong Plants, Balvenie Double-Wood single malt whisky, caramel ice cream, Fabreeze, gummy worms, pink flamingos, and Christmas fruitcake (which lasts forever).

I’d like to tell you where our shelter is, but we only have so much room. However, you can secure your place in our survival shelter by making Grumpy the sole legal beneficiary of your 401k no later than midnight December 20, 2012. Balance must exceed $200,000 to cover shipping and handling.

lenten rose 001 copy phixr 9 Things Im Grateful For This Thanksgiving

Lenten rose, Grumpy’s fave perennial for shade. Photo by Steve Bender.

#3. Grumpy is grateful that thanks to global warming, his Lenten roses (Helleborus orientalis) now start blooming in December, instead of waiting until February like they used to do. Honestly, this perennial is so easy and so good that anyone with shade who can grow it should. It’s evergreen, blooms for two months, comes in lots of colors, has no pests, and deer won’t eat it. You can let it wilt to the ground for weeks in summer and as soon as it rains or you water it, it pops back up like nothing’s happened. Totally awesome, baby!

yeti phixr 9 Things Im Grateful For This Thanksgiving

Everyone needs a Garden Yeti. Photo by Steve Bender.

#2. Grumpy is grateful that he finally has picked out the perfect Christmas gift for his lovely wife, Judy.

For years, she’s stubbornly maintained that after 20 years of marriage, if I really loved her and I really knew her, I would get her an appropriate gift and need no prompting or hints.

Well, I took her criticism to heart. After all, there was Christmas 2003, when I gave her a paper shredder. And there was Christmas 2006, when I presented her with a model of the U.S.S. Enterprise (so cool!) from Star Trek. Not to mention last year when I gave her a complete Raid Sampler with all the different fragrances (I like shrimp & grits the best). Her displeasure caught me off-guard at first. I mean, when you have company coming over and armies of roaches are skittering over the kitchen floor, you’re going to want that Shrimp & Grits Raid!

But I’ve learned my lesson. After searching hither on yon for months on end, here is her present for Christmas 2012. Now honestly…..how can she NOT like a Garden Yeti?


Thousands of Grumpy’s eager followers crowd St. Peter’s Square in Rome just to get the briefest glimpse. Photo by Ruth L.

#1. Most of all, Grumpy is grateful for you, his loyal readers. You make this job something I look forward to every minute of every day, even when the President’s on the phone, beefing about me blowing the White house’s party budget. Hey, Barack, Grumpy just does the people’s bidding. (They wanted that monogrammed platinum flatware!) And he promises to serve his audience faithfully for yet another term.


  1. Carrie

    Love Grumpy and have read and laughed at the gardening articles for years at SL. Keep up the grump! 🙂

    November 27, 2012 at 11:18 am
  2. Steve Bender

    You have a lot to be grateful for.

    I bet you say that to all the grumps.

    November 27, 2012 at 9:52 am
  3. Jean

    We are thankful for you Grump. Life would be so boring without you.

    November 26, 2012 at 10:32 am
  4. Rosa M Diaz

    I am also thankful for 9 things: 1. My mother is 85 and even though she broke her hip last year, she’s now walking and independent as always, 2. My siblings and all our children are healthy and alive, 3. each one of us own a house. 4. Money comes and goes. 5. My neices and nephews are in school for the most part 6. No one in my family is into drugs or crime (Thank God) 7. We all live a decent, civilized life. 8. I have a good son. 9. I am happy

    November 26, 2012 at 9:25 am
  5. Steve Bender

    Thanks, Donna!

    November 24, 2012 at 8:38 am
  6. Donna

    I am grateful for your wild sense of humor. Blogging would be a drag without Grumpy.

    November 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm
  7. Steve Bender

    The previous comment was spam. I have removed it. I have also removed the sender from Grumpy’s Christmas list.

    November 21, 2012 at 8:28 am
  8. Cindy Gill


    November 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm
  9. carolyn choi

    Great article, Grumpy. Congrats on 29 years at Southern Living, it is so obvious from your contributions that you love your job and we, your loyal readers, are grateful for that. As a farmer’s daughter from Northern Alabama I appreciate your shout out to the farmers who put food on the table. Farming is, indeed, one of the most challenging and heart-breaking jobs of all. Count yourself lucky to have a ‘bama belle for your wife or you would have been banned to the survival room a long time ago. I’m surprised you didn’t get her a new set of tires. That grotesque garden yeti is the final straw and I suggest you put it in the veggie garden to scare off the crows before Judy files for divorce. Since you’re doing the people’s bidding we want monogramed platinum garden tools.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:07 am
  10. Cindy Gill

    Blowing the White House’s party budget? That’s the least budget he should be concerned about!

    November 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s