It’s been a week already since I jumped in my car in the darkness of the early morning and, like an ice clipper through the Arctic, made my way through the dense fog of central Illinois on my way east for Thanksgiving.

At the end of my 10 hour journey to northeastern Ohio lay my prize: a warm, inviting home full of loving family and the best food a boy could eat. This year was especially joyful for me; I wasn’t able to make it to Thanksgiving last year to see all my family and I got to see my Mom for the first time since she moved to North Carolina more than a year ago.

This year’s holiday was about reconnecting with family, spending time with those I don’t get to see that often, re-energize my emotional batteries with love and support from my family and, of course, eating amazing food.

I was also blessed with the opportunity to meet a family member I’ve never met before: my amazing second cousin, Melissa, who is a classical pianist and currently pursuing her Master’s in Performance Administration in New York City. For those keeping track, she has only been in the Big Apple since August; having moved from Colorado, let’s just say that she’s had her fair share of northeastern weather.

With another year quickly wrapping up and the Thanksgiving holiday still on my mind, I thought it would be nice to take some time and reflect on some of the things I am most thankful for this year.

Giving Thanks

It seems like we all spend far too much time throughout the year complaining about all the things that we don’t have or don’t get to do in our lives when we should be spending more time realizing all the blessings that we do receive. Here are just a few of the things I am most thankful for this year.

My Partner in Crime
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I would probably be a broken shell of a person if I had never met Caitlin, my fiancĂ©e. She keeps me grounded and is the voice of both reason and comfort when I need them most. I am most thankful for the chance to share my life with her and getting to share in hers as well. I’m also very thankful for the laughter we share. Whenever I am having a bad moment, I know she will be there to remind me that all things in life can be laughed at and that, no matter what, I will always have someone to join me in that laughter.

The Kids
They may not be human, but make no mistake: our three cats, Marie, Sookie, and Bella, are our kids. They fight, they play, and they keep us on Caitlin and I on our toes. Most importantly, they make us laugh and they make us love. I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without those obnoxious fur balls swirling around us at home.

Friends & Family
In my world, these two groups are one in the same. My family, especially my parents, are some of my best friends and my friends are some of the best family I have. With everyone so scattered across the globe and all of us with our crazy schedules, we don’t have much time to stay in touch or see one another, but we do all we can and we soak up what little moments we are given.

This also holds true for my new family; Caitlin’s parents and family have welcomed me with open arms since the day we met and I look forward to the time spent with them as much as I do my own.

Passions & Challenges

I don’t know where it came about, but at some point in my journey, I realized that the meaning of life, for me, is to learn and to love. I’m very thankful for all the talents that the universe has bestowed on me, especially my passion for learning new things.

While I often struggle with not having time enough to dedicate to any one thing, especially my music and photography, and wanting to learn something new, I’m proud of the knowledge I’ve gained and my enjoyment for helping others learn as well. I’m glad I am able to see obstacles as stepping-stones and not stumbling blocks, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Health, Home, & Happiness
Last, but not least, I am thankful for every single day I get to be alive and healthy doing what I love doing most, the beautiful home that Caitlin and I purchased last year, which provides a roof over our heads and a warm place to spend time with one another, and, of course, the ability to smile and laugh, which makes all the things I do and experience all that much better.

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