Time to take a deep breath and offer thanks

Thanksgiving, my friends, is the greatest holiday of all.

I’m not going to try to argue that it is the most significant of the holidays, as ones with religious histories or national importance certainly take precedent. And as far as pure, unrestricted fun goes, I’ve had a long history with St. Patrick’s Day that has made the good people at Jameson and Excedrin very happy over the years.

But Thanksgiving is the one that makes me feel the most comfort, if that makes sense. It is a time to be with loved ones, to return home, to eat piles of guilt-free food and to lie down on the carpet with your pants button undone while watching grown men in armor beat each other up on television while chasing a football.

I’ll take that day, please. With a side of sweet potatoes.

It is also a holiday that comes with far less commercialism and fanfare that some of its bigger brothers. We are not inundated with Thanksgiving sales (well, except the ones that start on Thanksgiving under the guise of Christmas), and any television shows or movies that focus on Thanksgiving center their plot lines around family and sweaters and smiles and kindness. It’s a good time of year.

We won’t get into a recap of the history of the holiday, as those happy images many of us grew up with featuring smiling pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a feast are probably not quite as accurate as our optimistic hearts would like us to believe, but let’s instead focus on the modern traditions of Thanksgiving — which highlight family, food and offering thanks.

It’s almost kind of sad that we need a holiday to spur us to take stock of all that is around us and remember those things for which we are most thankful. But that’s really where we’ve come as a society, isn’t it? We work more than ever. We busy ourselves into our smartphones and Netflix and social networking, and somewhere along the line, well, we kind of forget to take a deep breath, take a look around and offer thanks.

And Thanksgiving causes us to do that.

So, without further adieu, I offer up my list of those things for which I am most grateful. I wish I did a better job of showing my appreciation over the course of the year, but you’ll probably see that in my resolutions column in a few weeks. Hey, if we stop trying, we start dying, right?

• I am thankful for the laughter, wags and smiles when I get home from work every day/night. Sure, there are times when I get to that front door after a 15-hour day and just want to melt into the couch and be alone with my thoughts for a minute. But being greeted warmly makes all that go away pretty quickly, and can make me feel like maybe the entire world isn’t out to get me on that particular day.

• In that vein, I’m thankful for my beautiful wife, healthy daughter and overly-affectionate dogs. There are times I do catch myself looking around the living room and really appreciating how fortunate I am. There are other times I hide under the bed sucking my thumb. It’s all part of the joy.

• I’m thankful that I still talk daily with a group of my buddies from the United States Marine Corps, even though we are all a bit grayer, pudgier and in various stages of disrepair now. Well, all of us but Rodney. He’s still in shape and looks like he’s 22 years old. We don’t particularly care for Rodney.

• I’m thankful that I have a job and a paycheck. Granted, Susan Lyons could decide to bounce me out of here before this week’s paper ever hits the street, but it’s pretty cool getting to go to work every day and truly believe in what you’re doing, and getting to work with people who truly believe in what they’re doing.

• I’m thankful for Susan Lyons. She’s smart and kind and beautiful and just a heck of a person. Ooh, and a snappy dresser.

• I’m thankful that I might have just bought myself another year of gainful employment.

• I’m thankful to live in this community. I truly am. Oh, we have our warts and blemishes, but I still get shocked year after year over the generosity of the people who live here. Family in need? People give without a second thought. Somebody wants to build something to benefit others? Checkbooks get popping. Dashing bald editor is looking for a free vacation from his readers? Hello? Anybody? Yeah, didn’t think so. But you guys still rock.

• I’m thankful to live in a nation where free and open debate still exists. I know, I know. If you’re conservative, you think the liberals are morons. If you’re liberal, you believe the conservatives are idiots. But that’s kind of how this is supposed to work. We debate issues, fight passionately for our beliefs, then hold elections so we can vote into office the kind of men and women who can sit together in a room and make adult decisions that benefit us the most. Yeah, that last part doesn’t always work out so well, but I’m thankful we try.

• I’m thankful that I made it through some trying health concerns this year, and that so many people here at the Point had my back while I was shuffling back and forth between doctor visits. It’s a microcosm of our entire community here at our office, and I’m forever grateful.

• I’m thankful that men and women selflessly volunteer their own safety to protect the rest of us — in the military, police departments and elsewhere. Thank you.