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It's that time of year again, thankfully

It drives me crazy to see Christmas decorations already.

I scowl at cars with Christmas trees tied down to the top a good month before Christmas Day. I like to celebrate my holidays one at a time, and I haven't even eaten my annual smorgasbord at my in-laws' house yet this year, so I know it can't be Christmas season just yet.

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Between now and the end of the year, we are facing so many different holidays it'll make your head spin if you celebrated them all. We have religious holidays in practically every religion.

There are Christmas and Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and the Prophet's Birthday. St. Nick's Day and Feast Days for Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception. There are somber days like the Remembrance of Pearl Harbor and celebratory days like New Year's Eve as we look to make a fresh start.

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There are days to celebrate who you are like American Indian Heritage day and pagan holidays like Winter Solstice, Black Friday, and we now even have Cyber Monday in case you didn't get enough on Friday.

The one day that's coming up that has always had me more excited than any other holiday we celebrate during the year is this Thursday, the day we call Thanksgiving.

There are no gifts to exchange so no bickering among siblings (at least as it relates to the gifts); no dress up days to try and impress your friends and family members — the only requirement in our house is that you either have stretch pants or an extra hole to relax your belt when you finally put the fork down.

Thanksgiving is the most American of all of our holidays, one we can all share to get together and exchange stories, laugh with and at each other, eat ridiculous amounts of food, and watch to see who wins the 6-legged John Madden turkey.

There are many, many people in our country that don't get to celebrate as many of us do, and we'll all keep them in our thoughts and prayers during this season.

I, for one, have much to be thankful for.

First and foremost I am blessed by every day that I get to spend with my wife. She's the person that does what she does to allow me to do what I do and for that I am forever grateful. She has given me a great life with a rich family that I pray for and about every day. For my mother who knows me better than anyone and my mother-in-law who treats me better than anyone, I am certainly thankful.

I'm thankful that this weekend we could celebrate the departure of his teenage years with our middle son, sharing a rare dinner with only the five of us. The conversations are a bit different than when everyone lived under the same roof, but the family dynamics remain pretty much the same. And once our nice family dinner was done, I am thankful that my older boys had a ton of friends over who are back from school to play an "NFL Street" tournament well in to the early morning hours as if they'd never left.

I'm thankful for my relatively good health and that of my family. We've been blessed with pretty good genes that we often take for granted.

I'm thankful that despite the paltry salary that we draw for being a teacher in this county that I work with some of the brightest and nicest kids and the smartest and most caring teachers around. And because not everyone falls in those categories, I'm thankful for the diversity of our population so that I can continue to be a life-long learner myself.

I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to work with some incredible soccer players every day for three months each year and watch them develop not only on the pitch, but also into wonderful young men and women that I'm proud to call my friends. I'm thankful for the relationship to still talk to many of them on a regular basis. And I'm thankful for the coaches I've competed against that continue to keep me humble and push me to be at my best at all times.

Finally, I'm thankful that I live in the greatest country in the world that allows me to battle my friends near and far over all things social and political but fear no government retaliation for my honest opinions.

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Because as the great American rap artist Eminem said, "I don't care if you're black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Simple as that."

Happy Thanksgiving.

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