Well, I am thankful for the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Okay, that’s not something you hear every day, California being one of those places where DMV offices tend to be characterized by extremely long lines for everything from vehicle registrations to drivers’ license renewals.

For some reason, though—maybe holiday shopping—California drivers gave the DMV a miss, and I managed to renew my license in about half an hour. The last time I tried this, I took a new novel and darn near finished it before I made it to the second window. I swore I’d never, ever face the DMV without an appointment again.

I called for my appointment this time at least a month before my birthday, which is when renewal falls due in our great state. The mechanical voice on the other end of the line (after I’d pushed several numbers on my touch-tone phone) said that they could come up with an appointment for me on February 15th, about two and a half months after I’d become an unlicensed driver. What kind of help is that????

Yesterday Darling Hubby said, “Maybe the day before Thanksgiving everyone will be making pies or grocery shopping. Why don’t we give DMV a try?” When we drove up to the office, I thought they must have closed early, because there were parking spots available. Unheard of! Under normal circumstances it takes two or three trips around the lot to find any spot unoccupied by a motorized vehicle of some sort.

Inside, there was a line consisting of one person. I have to admit I took a quick look around to make sure we were in the right office. But after filling out a quick form, waiting five minutes or so for an employee to become available,  taking an eye test and payment of $33, I was ready to take my written test.

These days, the actual written exam is given on a computer where one simply touches the right answer, and within a couple of minutes the screen says, “YOU PASSED! SEE THE CLERK.” A journey of three steps and a wait of two minutes brought a temporary license.

“You’ll get the real one in the mail within sixty days. Happy Thanksgiving!” I was on my way, duly licensed and yes, properly thankful. I’m a legal driver for four more years!

There are a lot of things more important to be thankful about, not just today, but every day. I would hope that you have the things I give thanks for: a loving family, enough food and shelter, kind friends. If you happen to find an empty DMV, be thankful for that, too; it’s a bonus.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.