This Thanksgiving will mark a first for my family - we're going out to dinner at a restaurant rather than host family or visit family for our turkey day meal.
My wife refuses to make a complete break from tradition so she will be roasting a turkey breast Thanksgiving morning so we will at least have "leftovers" for sandwiches.
My question: Can they truthfully be leftovers when the turkey breast will go untouched on Thanksgiving? Hmmm...
Anyway, while I am looking forward to a fuss-free holiday for a change, I must admit I am a little saddened by the prospect of sharing Thanksgiving dinner with a roomful of strangers.
But rather than feel sorry for myself - or, worse yet, to hastily organize a last-minute dinner here at the McGran home - I have decided to look on the bright side and jot down a list of the seven things that I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving.
No. 1 Happy, healthy children
I may get cranky at times and complain about rising early for Saturday morning basketball practices, but I am extremely grateful that my son Jonathan and my daughter Caelyn are bright, athletic kids who enjoy participating in various activities that get them away from the computer or Xbox from time to time. Because of them I am Coach John to a whole lot of area kids. And that's something that I believe keeps me feeling young even though my driver's license swears I am... gulp!... FIFTY!
No. 2 A wife who puts up with me
Don't ask me how, but my wife and I have lasted 13 years now. And even though she may not think it - or I may not show it enough - I am SO glad to be her husband.
As you might imagine, a man who goes by the name Mr. Bad Food may very well have a few other bad habits. Yet Barbara has stuck with me through thick and thin. I am sure there have been times she'd like to trade me in on a newer model with fewer issues, yet she stands by her man... and only God knows why!
No. 3 The United States of Good Food
I love food... not as much as I love my family, but quite a bit. Even here in a somewhat rural part of Pennsylvania, I can satisfy my cravings and yearnings for just about any sort of meal. There's a Wendy's right down the street and our favorite pizza 'n wings joint is a 5-minute drive in the other direction.
I grew up as part of a large family and mom cooked the basics to keep us all satisfied. It was only after I left the nest and headed to college that I began to experiment with food. Guess what? I quickly found out that I LOVE this stuff!
I have spent the past 30 years catching up on the foods I missed during my first 20 years of living at home. And that leads me to...
No. 4 Diet-to-Go
This isn't some shameless free plug for the company that pays me to write. I have been enjoying Diet-to-Go food for the past 10 years or so. I was introduced to it while I worked for another diet company.
Hmmmm... Mr. Bad Food and diet companies - are you seeing a trend here?
Anyway, I honestly love this food which they graciously send me every Tuesday like clockwork. Since late last year I have been chowing down on their low-carb meals. They also offer scrumptious low-fat and vegetarian fare.
So far today, I have feasted on veggie quiche with sausage for breakfast and stuffed flounder for lunch. This is REAL FOOD! I get my Diet-to-Go food delivered via Fed Ex right to my front door. You just can't beat that. It saves me many trips to the grocery store - a place that is extremely scary for a food lover like me!
No. 5 Good friends
Yes, as you can tell from points 3 and 4, I do consider food a friend of mine, but in this case I am talking about real flesh-and-blood folks like the guy who gives me financial advice and finds me affordable health insurance. His name is Herman and he and I have a past that stretches back to our junior high days. Then there's my attorney, who also happens to have been my very first roommate. "Joe U." and I graduated from high school together... way back in 1977!
I have a lot of other more-recent friends - like my neighbors and the guys and gals who oversee the local girls softball league and youth basketball league. The passage that Clarence leaves George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life sums it up nicely: Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
No. 6 A great place to live
This past August I brought my family back home to Drums, Pennsylvania after a year and a half in Massachusetts. Not only were we were lucky enough to sell our Massachusetts home in a down market, but we were able to buy a home three doors down from the home we sold before moving up north!
We are living next to the same folks we grew to know and enjoy during our last stint here. Our kids are back running with their old friends and we attend parties hosted by our dear friends who just happen to be our neighbors as well.
This neighborhood really feels like home. Don't even try to get me to leave it again. It really is a wonderful life, ain't it?
No. 7 A nation that stumbles but never falls
We haven't emerged from all the economic woes that slammed us in 2008, but there are signs of a rebound. And even though I, like millions of other Americans, have suffered financially there is no other place that I would even consider calling home.
I recently exercised my right to vote even though the races were few, but I did so because it is my small way to take part in this great democracy. Okay, so this is beginning to sound corny even to me.
The bottom line: America surely is beautiful for its spacious skies and amber waves of grain. It's even more attractive for its willingness to let anyone have a shot at making it... and for the fact it's where people come to live free.
And I would be remiss if I forgot our Armed Forces. I am extremely thankful for the men and women who put their lives on the line in far-off places on a daily basis. God bless America!
Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving - no matter where you and your family gather to give thanks, eat turkey and watch football.
Author: John McGran