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My family used to have huge Thanksgiving celebrations. They would partner with several other families to rent out a dining hall at Camp Parks in Dublin.

I was young when we did these celebrations but I remember how fun they used to be— there was a DJ, I played football with the other kids and I would see so many friendly faces I couldn’t believe it.

Then my parents got divorced and Thanksgiving was a very different experience from that point forward.

The amount of people I celebrated Thanksgiving with was reduced from what seemed like a hundred to four— my mom, my grandma, my uncle and my aunt.

I was a little embarrassed at first, as it seemed like I’d had it so good for so long.

I didn’t feel like my holiday celebration was “normal.”

But, as the years went on, my mind began to change. I began to cherish the time I had with the people who were now closest to me.

Now, I’m looking forward to this holiday season more than I ever have because I look forward to seeing my family that much.

And that’s what I think the holidays are all about— taking time to appreciate what you have, what makes you happy.

I realized at one point in my life that I could sit around and mope about what I’d lost, what I wanted and didn’t have.

But what would be the point of that?

Nothing I could have done would have changed the situation I found my life in.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself and cursing the Thanksgiving holiday forever, I began to appreciate what was in front of me— the amazing people I’m fortunate enough to call my family.

And I definitely understand that not everyone loves their fam- ily the same way I’m describing. But most people have at least one thing to be thankful for.

Last week I wrote a screed about the evils of making people work on Thanksgiving.

That article was prompted by my reverence for the holidays as a sacred time in America— not because of the supposed origins of each holiday but because it’s supposed to be a rare day of true freedom for everyone. A day when calories don’t matter, there’s NFL football on during a Thursday afternoon and there’s no work for anyone.

I’ve been alive long enough to remember a time when Black Friday was not nearly as crazy as it is today. Now, it’s becoming the thing that people do— traditions are developing that revolve around shopping all Thanksgiving weekend.

While I do understand the appeal of the big savings on Black Friday, I implore all of you— this year, just think of what you have whether it’s your family, friends or even just some really cool possession you own, just as long as it’s something that makes you happy and feel gratitude.

Real, true gratitude.

For me, I love and appreciate my family, as cheesy as that sounds.

If I get you to do anything, just consider what you have, how good things may be and consider the plight of someone else who is less fortunate than you.

This whole article was definitely not in the spirit of my normal rantings and ravings, this I know. But it’s late November and I’m in the holiday spirit.

As mad as I may be about people being forced to work on Thanksgiving, I’m too full of love and thoughts of my roasted garlic mashed potatoes to get too worked up over politics or news or sports.

I promise, I’ll get angry once the Thanksgiving break is over.

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