First, I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. One of the best days of the year for me because I basically have zero responsibility. Secondly, I have off tomorrow as well so it is a rare 2 days off! Today, I am thankful for a bunch of things but I would have to say the things I am most thankful for are the memories I have of my family's traditions.This is going to be my first Thanksgiving without my parents. My father passed away in March and my mother back in 1996. It is always tough, but the holidays make it even tougher. I can't deny that this year has been rough since dad died. I took my mothers passing pretty hard, but losing my father left an empty feeling. It truthfully wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I was able to finally accept the fact that he is gone. The depression from losing people that close to you physically hurts as well as mentally.

I was given a family photo album on my birthday and I find myself referring to it quite a bit these days.You see for me, memories can be a powerful thing. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I have memories of 2 fantastic parents. A mother who would get up early on Thanksgiving and make sure the turkey was in the oven on time and that the pies were done just right for her family and a father who somehow was able to make sure we had everything we could possibly want and need. It had to be tough feeding a family of 7 on one paycheck. There are days I wonder how they ever managed to do it.

I am thankful for the memories I have of my oldest brother Chuck coming home for the holidays after being away in the Marine Corps. I am thankful that I was able to enjoy backyard basketball on those warm Thanksgiving days with my brother Chris, sisters Liz and Kelly.Thanksgiving always seemed so special in our house because it was one of the few days of the year that we were all together and it wasn't about who got what gift.Don't get me wrong, Christmas was special in our house. But, Thanksgiving is so much better in that there is no pressure to buy anything. There is no tree to have to worry about. Sure, we have a dinner to worry about and yes, even I joke about loving to eat as much as I can, however, the real secret in Thanksgiving is that most families eat TOGETHER today. That is something that has gone by the wayside.

When you sit down for dinner today, think about the fact that you are gathering with your family and what that means. For me it means getting caught up on what is happening face to face NOT via email or Facebook. It means laughing about the crazy stories that only your family would laugh about. It means making new memories in a somewhat "old fashion way" that perhaps young kids today don't understand. Yes, families used to eat together every night and that was how we got to know one another and in my opinion made family ties stronger. Facebook is has it's place and can be useful. But nothing can beat one on one conversation. The kind that you find at a dinner table or gathered in a living room with your family.For me, it will be a bitter sweet day. Not having my mom and dad here to chat with is extremely weird and difficult at the same time. For those of you that may be without a loved one today, I can assure you that the memories and stories that you share of them at today's feast will make them seem alive as ever.Thanksgiving is about family. Pure and simple.