As incredibly entertaining as the rest of my family road trip was, I’m going to have to put that piece on the shelf. After seven weeks, I was only 24 hours into a week-long trip. Given my innate penchant for hyper verbosity, it’s entirely possible that one would have run until St. Patrick’s Day. Now that we are just a few days away from Thanksgiving, it is now officially the holiday season. Which means that this is the annual stretch where I put my cynicism and bitter rants aside, and spend the next 5 weeks or so writing light, feel good columns.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and one of only three holidays that I think are actually necessary; the other two of course being Mother’s Day and Veterans Day. Being a father, I’ll still celebrate the others with vigor and enthusiasm for the sake of my kids and my own nostalgia. Many of my fondest childhood memories are from the holidays spent with my family.

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons. One of which is the sheer simplicity of it and its’ basic principle. It’s a day set aside to remind all of us to be thankful for what we have. If you view it from the wrong angle, it’s almost pathetic that we need a designated day to remind us of that. In fact, if you are reading this, then you have a lot to be thankful for. And not because you are on the reading end of the weekly, pointless word tapestry I’ve woven, but more so because if you are reading this it means that you woke up today. Considering the alternatives, that’s a pretty good thing.

I may have mentioned this before, but indulge me anyway. Many years ago, I purchased one of those little ‘to do list’ note pads. I wrote on the line for item number one; “wake up today”. I never wrote another word on the pad and it’s been on my night stand for about 20 years now. It’s the first thing I look at every day and it really helps me to keep my perspective. Before my feet even hit the floor, I’ve already accomplished everything I really had to do today and anything after that is just a bonus. I know this sort of cliché optimism probably seems oxymoronic coming from a guy who seemingly spends his time searching for foibles, negatives, and the misgivings of the human race to write about. The truth is that no matter how jaded I may seem with my writing sometimes, it’s really just my way of showing you all that if you really try, you can find humor in almost everything.

I’ll cite some examples from my own column. Earlier this year I hit a large deer with my van which seriously altered the day for both me and that 4-legged asshole that dwells in the woods beside Route 90. Six thousand dollars worth of damage for me, and a terrible headache for him and yet we got a couple of weeks worth of laughs out of it. My potentially near death experience with a bee sting a couple of years ago is still my second favorite story I’ve written and some of my funniest stuff. My disastrous second anniversary that included a power outage, a family-wide stomach virus, culminating in a symphony of projectile vomiting, in which we somehow we all got a good laugh….priceless material.

The point being, don’t take life to seriously to appreciate the simple beauty and humor of it all. Be thankful for all that you have and all that you are. If it takes a designated Thursday in late November to remind you of that, then so be it. Just don’t fail to get the message.

Thanksgiving to me is one of the last remaining bastions of purity amongst the holidays. It, to this point at leas,t has not yet become bastardized, over commercialized, or turned into a cash machine for business. Unless you are a turkey farmer, or you work for the company that makes those cans of Durkee crispy onions that sell one week out of the year, there’s still an underlying innocence to Thanksgiving. The day is all about family, food, and an appreciation for the things we sometimes take for granted. To quote Julie Andrews; “these are a few of my favorite things”. (If you try to tell me you didn’t just sing that last sentence in your head, you’re a liar.)

Just think about the simplistic beauty of Thanksgiving. You don’t have to buy gifts or cards for people. I mean, you should probably bring a bottle of wine or a cool table arrangement or something, but it’s not the commercial driven exchange of gifts with each other under the guise of celebrating the birth of a hypothetical being like some other holidays. You don’t have to dress in a certain color scheme or costume of any type. There are no songs to be sung, no explosives to be ignited, and minimal decorating at most. You just show up, hang out with the people you love most, and eat like a gluttonous animal until you have to unhook your belt and drift into a temporary tryptophan induced coma. As if all of that isn’t enough, now throw football into the mix. It’s the best day of the year. And you have never once heard of anyone trying to ban it because it could be offensive to Pilgrims. Though given the thin skinned, cowardly nature of our current society, it’s really just a matter of time until some guilt monger and self proclaimed spokesperson for Native Americans decides it’s an inappropriate ritual. Or even worse, PETA goes on a ‘save the turkeys’ crusade. Either way, I’m sure it will be an opportunity to get another idiotic sound bite out of Gwyneth Paltrow. For people like me, she is the gift that keeps on giving. With that said, I am thankful for her. (Ya see what I did there?)

The list of things that I am thankful for is so incredibly long that I couldn’t possibly write them all down here. So in the coming weeks, I’ll try to give some examples accompanied by a little story about each. Some may be a little silly and some may even tug at your heart strings. I’ll now give you 2 examples illustrating the range.

First- I am thankful for anyone who has NEVER invited me to play Candy Crush.

Second- I am thankful for each and every moment I got to spend with my Mom while she was alive.

And if you go out shopping on Thursday after dinner…shame on you. Thanks for playing along. Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Until next week, Syd Nichols