Ah, the memories.
The toasty home on a cold winter's day. Mom humming a tune in the kitchen. The aroma of delicious food wafting through the air. Friends and family members gathering around the table or in the living room. The football game playing on the TV in the background.
Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. Even more so than Christmas, although not by much.
When I was a child, Thanksgiving meant a weeklong visit from my grandma, who traveled from Mesa, Ariz. She was the sweetest woman in the world and taught me how important it was to have an optimistic take on life.
Thanksgiving also meant visits with aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. It was a break from our hectic lives; a chance to catch up on one another's lives.
In my teen years, my younger brother and I started a new Thanksgiving tradition: going to the movies.
This may seem counter to what the holiday is all about, but it was a wonderful opportunity for my brother and I to spend quality time together - and it kept us out of our mother's hair while she prepared dinner. There's nothing liking bonding with your brother while sharing a ginormous box of Red Vines and cheering on Rambo or the Terminator. Afterward, we'd share our movie critiques with the rest of the family as we sat down for a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving also was a time to introduce the latest girlfriend to family and friends, followed by a similar visit with the girlfriend's family. This, of course, meant getting two homemade Thanksgiving dinners!
Looking back on past Thanksgivings, I realize how blessed I was - and still am. I am extremely grateful. And that's what Thanksgiving is all about. Right?
It's sad to think that for some people, Thanksgiving has become more a family obligation than a family celebration. Worse yet, it's been downgraded to simply a day off from work, to watch the "big game" or to prepare for shopping on Black Friday.
Well, not me. Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday. And come Nov. 25, I will be spending time with my family in our cozy home on a cold winter's day, creating new Thanksgiving memories.
My parents or brother won't be there - they still live in California - but the inlaws will likely be there, as will our two big dogs. We will probably rent a few movies instead of going to the theater.
I will be the one humming a tune in the kitchen while my daughter and wife prepare the turkey and I cook my famous gravy. The smells of good food will fill the house as we enjoy good conversation and play games or music.
And we'll take a moment to remember those less fortunate, asking our heavenly father to bless them with much-needed comfort, good food and good company - the things on which fond memories are built.