Thanksgiving is the ultimate time to give thanks

Thanksgiving is largely built on traditions. You know, like white people coming here and running through the native population like they were ...

But I digress.

It is a holiday that has morphed into the ultimate family experience. It’s no longer about pilgrims or maize as much as it is about family, food and homecomings. People come back to their home towns to visit loved ones for the holiday, and local bars become informal high school reunions on the Wednesday night before the turkey gets served.

And each family has traditions. Mine would take a moment before we ate for each person to pause and give thanks for things in his or her individual life that cause us to be grateful. The list from me would typically include family, food, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar and whatever random subject I could grab that would make my grandmother cry.

One year, it was the starving population in Ethiopia. Another, it was gratitude for the slots opening up in Dover. You really had to understand her to know what would pull on her heartstrings. Usually, starving children or the opportunity to gamble did it for her.

Each Thanksgiving growing up certainly had its own identity in that different people were often seated at the table. Some years, my beloved Uncle Tim and his family would be able to get away and join the rest of us. Other years, there were random girlfriends or boyfriends at the table. Some times, there were pretty good arguments rolling through the family that would entertain the children.

But there were always constants you could rely on each year. My father would fall asleep on the floor. My grandfather would fall asleep on the couch. A child would accidentally get into my grandmother’s “orange juice.” Black Friday featured a trip to the mall and, more importantly, a chance to tell Santa what we wanted for Christmas.

It always was my favorite holiday of the year, even as a child. Oh, Christmas certainly had its selling points — lots of presents, baked goods aplenty and music that makes you sing along to songs you’ve heard your whole life. But Thanksgiving was still my favorite.

Thanksgiving was when I just felt like I was at home, even though we were never at my home for the holiday. The family was together, without the distractions of scrambling for that last-minute gift or stocking stuffers, and there was a kick-off feel to the holidays with Thanksgiving that you just didn’t have any other time.

Remember the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when you were a kid, or that aforementioned trip to see Santa on Black Friday? When Christmas came, it always felt like that was the end of the holiday season to me as a kid. Oh, I knew New Year’s was only a week away, but, really, that meant very little to me as a child except that the college football bowl games were nearing.

But Thanksgiving was just the start of things to come. Oh, I know they’re now pushing Christmas down our throat starting before Halloween, but I really don’t get into that mode until Thanksgiving. That is when the holiday season truly begins.

Regardless, I do have much to be thankful for this year, and since my grandmother is no longer with us to hear it, I suppose I’ll share them with all of you.

For instance, I’m thankful for my family — and I mean every part of it. I just heard on Tuesday morning that one of my favorite uncles passed, and it made me think of everybody in his branch of the tree. We’ve had some tough losses over the past few years, but I’m grateful I got to spend some time with everybody who passed, and extremely thankful for all who remain.

I’m thankful for the men and women who work at the Coastal Point. People, we really do have an outstanding staff, filled with people who have both talent and a passion for what they do on a day-to-day basis. It is an honor to work closely with them, and I hope their abilities are apparent in the paper each week. If not, that’s my fault, not theirs.

They’ll laugh at me for saying it, but I’m thankful to have the group of friends I’ve collected. From my buddies in the Marine Corps who I still play fantasy football with each week 20 years later to the guys I play poker with to those whom I’ve met since I’ve been living here, I’m a lucky guy. Good friends all around.

I’m thankful for this community embracing us, both as their local newspaper and on a personal level. I know I’ll never reach the esteemed status of “local” here, but it is my home and I love it. Thank you for accepting me.