Reflection and expressing gratitude are two consistent elements of the Thanksgiving holiday while who and what we are thankful for may change through the years.  The nostalgia of this time of year is quite compelling and as I think back about Thanksgivings past, I’m seeing my experiences in a new light with and a new found appreciation.

High School:

The Thanksgiving day football game was one big party where current students, alumni, and an entire city came together to celebrate.  No matter the outcome, spectators would leave the game with their heads held high as the band marched by and nothing, but love and pride for their hometown.

I am thankful for traditions.

College:

Being a fall season, college athlete meant that I left for preseason mid-Augustand didn’t return home again until Thanksgiving. Amidst practices, home games, travel to away games, extra time with the trainer, team meetings, maybe a post season game or two (not to mention, studying, papers, and school work) even though I was only an hour and 45 minutes away, there was no down time to coordinate a visit home.

Each year, I packed my cleats and books away just as the fourth week of November would mercifully roll around and with a mostly dry season and mid-terms behind me, I viewed Thanksgiving weekend and the night before Thanksgiving in particular, as a mini-spring break. Out all night in bed until noon.  Mom back at it with the home cooked meals and laundry service.  Reconnecting with my high school crew to trade stories of our poor choices and misguided adventures at school and have a few more of our own.

I am thankful for the good times around every corner.

Married, Without Children:

Some years we were ambitious and ran the Turkey Trot race in Manchester Thanksgiving morning.  Other years, we were lazy and napped the day away in between seconds of gravy soaked turkey and slices of pumpkin pie.

I am thankful for the simple life.

Today:

We will start the day with Turkey Bowl III, an event the kids have been looking forward to since Halloween. Meeting up with other families from town at the local elementary school for a friendly game of touch football is the perfect way to start the holiday.  Afterwards, we will head to my parents’ house for a feast that is not unlike the spread you would see at one of our typical Sunday dinners.  I will force the boys to dress in pants with buttons.  They will force smiles for family pictures by the piano.  This year, our family expanded three fold – identical twin nephews and my niece born just ten days apart.  Cousins number eight, nine, and ten and my almost 95 year old grandma make my heart full to the brim.

I am thankful for even the smallest moments with friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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