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I'm thankful I live 97 miles from a Starbucks

I try to live with a thankful heart year-round, but since it's November and we'll soon be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., it's a good time for me to be extra mindful of gratitude. This is the first of four columns rooted in thankfulness for rural life.

Our home is located 97 miles from a Starbucks. I've used this line for a decade, not because I'm a frequent Starbucks customer but because when our little family moved from south Fargo, N.D., to rural North Dakota a decade ago I had to adapt to the contrast in conveniences and overall pace.

After we moved, I could no longer drive through Starbucks three blocks from our house. Instead, we learned to use the Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffeemaker we received from my great aunt as a wedding gift.

The coffee grinder was our alarm clock each morning in our little rental house. One morning, our son, who was about 10 at the time, got up to use the bathroom just as the coffee grinder went off. In the darkness of a winter morning and groggy from sleep, he was sure we were under attack. Instead, the coffee maker was doing its job. We will always laugh about that morning.

Moving 97 miles from a Starbucks created a new routine for us. My husband sets the timer on the coffeemaker each night. He brings me a fresh cup of coffee each morning while I'm still in bed. If I have to travel early, he sets the timer to go off earlier, and I come downstairs to hot coffee ready to top off my travel mug.

I'm thankful for coffee — but far greater than that I'm thankful to be home most days with a husband who makes me coffee.

Living away from conveniences such as drive-through coffee shops or pop culture brands allows us to slow down and be intentional about sharing everyday routines. Instead of racing out the door to buy a cup of coffee on our commute to work, we have the opportunity to share a cup of coffee together most mornings.

I'm used to our remote and rural way of life, so much so, I recently realized, I've been taking it for granted. I no longer feel like I'm missing out because I don't have a Starbucks three blocks from my house like I did when I first moved from the city to the "middle of nowhere," as a few city friends call it.

Today, the "middle of nowhere," away from city lights and sounds, drive-through windows, big box stores and traffic lights, is home.

My husband, kids and I try to relish and celebrate the simplicity and goodness of rural life. We enjoy exploring and traveling to new cities to experience different cultures. But traveling back to our rural home down two-lane highways with wide-open skies and vast prairies is our favorite nowhere, anywhere and everywhere. It's home.

These days, we're on our second Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffeemaker after wearing out our first one. My parents and grandma each have one in their farm kitchens now because they make the best cups of coffee. I enjoy a Starbucks coffee when I get to a city. But most days, I'm thankful for a husband who sets the timer on the coffeemaker the night before, the cup of coffee he delivers me each morning, and the simple routine we share in our rural home.