Many of us will gather this week with family and take a break from our often-hectic lives to observe another Thanksgiving.

It’s a favorite holiday of mine mainly because it doesn’t seem to have such a hectic nature to it. Christmas is often filled with stress because we are trying to get so many things done from buying presents to making numerous plans, all of which takes place around our usual work schedule.

Thanksgiving seems different, though; however, for those who continue the tradition of preparing a meal for this special day, there is certainly worked involved. It’s a day to remember those who work on holidays including members of our military, firemen, nurses, paramedics, doctors and 911 operators.

It’s a shame, though, that it takes a day on the calendar to remind us to be thankful.

For me, 2019 has been one of personal reflection. With my personal calendar now reading 48 years, I find myself more tired than I used to be. The mind tends to think I am still 18 but my body quickly tells me otherwise.

Family has always been the No. 1 source of being thankful for me. I’ve had the ultimate support network from my family.

I know we are all biased to some degree in thinking our families are the best, but I have always had strong examples on how to lead a good life from my family members. From my grandparents to my parents to aunts and uncles, there have always been numerous family members for me to model myself after.

I am also thankful that I grew up in small-town America and the values that taught me. I am proud of my hometown and only wish I was able to be there more often.

In addition to family, I am also thankful for a small but great group of friends who are always there for me when I need them. It means a lot to look at your phone and see a text from a friend asking about your day.

I’m thankful for my nieces Claudia and Natascha and the joy they have brought to my family. Both are moms now (Claudia with two daughters and Natascha with a son) and having young ones around is a blessing to all of us.

I will be working on Thanksgiving Day (for one of my three jobs.) While many would hate to do so, I am thankful for the job in reality.

I hope Thanksgiving in 2019 is a special one for each of you. I appreciate those of you who take the time to read the words I offer, even if only once in a while. At times, I wonder if anyone is reading but that’s usually when I receive an email from a reader about a column. You can rest assured I keep each one of those notes.

Speaking of writing, I am thankful for my old newspaper mentor Bill Hughes, who was the editor and publisher of my hometown paper. He gave me my first chance at writing and it is something I will never forget. The high school football season from the fall of 1988 seems lifetimes ago now but I still remember putting together those first stories and the thrill of seeing my name with those articles.

Thanksgiving is also a time to remember those loved ones who are no longer with us, at least not in body. Their memories stay strong, however, and I will be thinking of them on this latest Thanksgiving.

The memories of family gatherings, a break from school, watching football all afternoon and eventually taking a peaceful nap are all things which still sound good to me.

So here’s to a day of family gatherings, football on the television and thoughts for those not as fortunate. It’s a day of thanks for those high school football teams in Georgia still involved in the playoffs. One of the greatest thrills for a player is to take part in practice on Thanksgiving morning since that means the season is still very much alive even though the grass on the playing field may not be.

I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families on this special day. I trust we can all gather back here again next year and give thanks again.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former sports editor for the Barrow News-Journal. He is a multi-time winner for sports and column writing from the Georgia Press Association, National Newspaper Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback about this column at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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