Point of no return — Another year, another opportunity to be thankful

I've long thought that the two game-changers most responsible for propelling mankind to the top of the food chain are opposable thumbs and our ability to moan and complain about things that aren't nearly important enough to moan and complain about.

 The “thumbs” thing, I believe, is pretty clear. We use them to grip tools, wield weapons and give really hep gestures of appreciation or acceptance, as taught to us by the professor of all things truly cool, Arthur Fonzarelli.

The moaning and complaining part is more of a riddle. How is that an advantage for human beings that other species just don't have? It's not. I just needed a segue to get to where I wanted to get with this column. Which brings me to...

Happy Thanksgiving, boys and girls.

Dress up the turkey, butter up the rolls and change the pre-arranged seating chart so the niece who volunteers on weekends for Elizabeth Warren is seated next to your uncle in the MAGA hat. The greatest of all the holidays is now upon us, and that is not something I say lightly.

Christmas, Easter and Memorial Day all hold much more spiritual and solemn significance for me than Thanksgiving. That's not even up for debate. If you ask me what's the most important of our holidays, it would be those three to me, and all others don't even make the team picture. 

But Thanksgiving is the one that brings me the most pure joy. There is no mad rush to sink further into debt or be at 1,111 different places every day like Christmas. There is no trying to explain the true meaning of the holiday to my daughter while also justifying colored eggs and plastic grass, like Easter. And there is no attempting to juggle staying solemn and burying a steamed crab in Old Bay, as often happens to me on Memorial Day.

Thanksgiving is about family. And turkey. And football. And being grateful for all the things we do have in our lives. It is a uniquely American holiday, from its roots being steeped in violent controversy to its current-day status as the ultimate celebration of gluttony. As Americans, we have much to be thankful for. As Americans, we also have a history of attaching ourselves so much to our work and other interests that we often neglect to just stop, take a moment and really reflect on all the good that is around us on a day-to-day basis. 

At Thanksgiving, we stop. At Thanksgiving, we reflect.

So, without further adieu, I'm going to stop a bit right now and offer thanks to all those things that make me grateful.

• I'm thankful for my job. I get a paycheck, my family has insurance and I get a few weeks paid vacation a year. That is reason enough for me to be thankful for my job. But I also get to mostly do what I love, in a community that I love, with co-workers whom I love. My father often told me when I was a kid that he didn't care what I did for a living, as long as I loved what I did and worked as hard as I could doing it. I'm thankful I get to do this, in this community.

• I'm thankful for the friends I've been able to make in this community. I was able to get together with a group of buddies for the first time in a while last weekend, and it was a ton of laughs. Don't take your friends for granted — especially if they are people who root for you in life. 

• I'm thankful for granola bars. No, wait, I'm thankful for the granola bars they now sell in 2018. I tried eating them back in the '80s, and felt that they tasted like someone glued some nuts and pieces of tree bark to the sole of a combat boot. I did not like them, so I reached for a candy bar, instead. I kind of like them now, which has probably prevented me from hitting 700 pounds.

• I'm thankful that I get to kiss my mom on Thanksgiving. 

• I'm thankful that we live in an age when a man who is follicly-challenged can just go ahead and surrender the fight by shaving his head without looking like he belongs in a federally-defined hate group. Having a smooth dome does not automatically make you a “skin head.” Sometimes, you just don't want to whip that remaining swatch of hair around your head so much that it looks like a bowl of never-ending pasta. 

• I'm thankful that my wife is a remarkable human, wife and mother. The fact that she's smoking hot doesn't hurt, either.

• I'm thankful that there are selfless and brave men and women located around the world who keep my family safe. While we're arguing over who gets the drumstick or angling for prime position on the couch, these real patriots will be in fighting holes, manning radios and walking perimeters — missing their families, but serving us all with their courage and loyalty. Let's remember them over the holidays.

• I'm thankful for a free market, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, elections, apple pie and the ability of people to rise to whatever heights their hard work, skills and good luck take them in life. And cheese dip. I love cheese dip.

• I'm thankful for my smart-mouthed, stubborn, oftentimes-beligerent daughter. She is the air in my sails.

• I'm thankful for you, our readers. Thank you for putting your trust in us for nearly 15 years. I am forever grateful.