Over the last year or so, as we sit down to dinner, our family has gotten into the habit of sharing something aloud that we are thankful for. It has been great for us to stop and reflect on the wonderful things in our life, some major, some trivial.

With that in mind, here, in no particular order, are some things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

• The Tucson landscapes and sky. I never get tired of seeing the mountains, the gorgeous sunsets and the bright moon and stars.

• Vacations. Tucson is amazing, but getting out of town and experiencing new things is so enjoyable. Seattle and Vancouver were two new spots for my family in 2011.

• New opportunities to serve others. This year I was fortunate to become a member of Angel Charity for Children, which raises money for Pima County children's organizations. Rollin' for Ninos, which sponsors the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson Basketball League, is another group we started supporting. Seeing people give so generously to others is inspiring.

• My sons' school and the talented teachers there. Aside from my husband and me, my boys spend more hours with their teachers than anyone else. I appreciate their work and patience with my children.

• Girls' nights out. I love hanging out with my husband and sons, but sometimes I need time with my girlfriends. Whether we are celebrating a birthday, meeting for book club or getting together for no reason, it's always a treat.

• New Tucson restaurants. We've enjoyed Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery, Noble Hops and the new Wilko. We are excited to try Union Public House and V Thai.

• Mild winter weather. At this time of year, I look at the weather page and think about how we are spared the miserable winter temperatures and snow most of the country faces. No shoveling, few travel delays and no daily bundling up with scarves, hats and mittens.

• Wildcat basketball. I love watching my Northwestern Wildcats and my adopted team, the Arizona Wildcats. My alma mater's basketball team has never made the NCAA tournament, so it's been a pleasure to watch the success of the Arizona program.

• Babysitters. It's always a relief to get the sitter booked and know that the fun night out will happen. We've been lucky to find some trustworthy college and high school students whom the boys love to hang out with.

• Quiet summertime. This time of year is so busy with the kids' schoolwork and sports, the holidays and volunteering, it makes me appreciate the free schedule and lazy days we have during the summer.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

E-mail Kelley Helfand at foothills@azstarnet.com