Thanksgiving is upon us, a time of the year to take stock of our blessings and be grateful for all that is good in our lives.

The Thanksgiving holiday has always been one of my favorites.....sure, the feast, football and left-over turkey sandwiches were all part of it, but most important is the company that we keep.

We have enjoyed Thanksgiving gatherings large and small through the years, and each brings its own unique gift....whether catching up with large numbers of extended family or just being able to spend the holiday with a few.

I enjoyed the larger holiday gatherings that I recall while growing up, but some of the most special Thanksgivings were those of early adulthood, when for a few years at the holiday my grandfather on dad’s side and I fended for ourselves on Thanksgiving Day.

We would head out to a popular buffet that was always open on the holiday (sometimes picking up my grandmother on mom’s side of the family as well, if she was not elsewhere for the holiday), and simply enjoy the meal together.

No pretense, no over-the-top preparations, no fuss and no muss.....just time spent with one another.

I enjoyed it at the time; I cherish those memories now.

I am, in a word, thankful for those moments.....and for so much more.

Kat and I are now the “grandparents.” We have become that older generation....and we have 10 grandchildren of our own, blessings in their own right.

With that age and experience come perspectives of adulthood (for most people, anyway, there are too many grown-ups who aren’t necessarily adults).

None of us have lived perfect lives.

We are flawed humans who have endured challenges, tough times and heartache as we go through life.

Sometimes, we get too caught up in our daily lives and we focus on our challenges rather than our blessings. I’m guilty of the same thing at times. I caught myself last week, for example, complaining about the smoke from the northern California fires - and realizing that (while definitely unhealthy) compared to the devastating loss so many have suffered our bad air quality was little more than a temporary inconvenience to most.

I am thankful for many things.

I am thankful that some 15 years ago the most wonderful woman in the world tapped me on the shoulder at a dinner-dance, and we have enjoyed life together since.

I am thankful that Kat and I are truly equal partners in our lives together.....which makes us only stronger.

I am thankful for an upbringing which instilled a work ethic, strong values and a moral compass.

I am thankful that, while I have a sense of right and wrong, I also do not see the world in uncompromising black-and-white. The world does not work that way.

I am thankful for my family as a whole.....loved ones are far more important than any material possession.

I am thankful for generally good health.

I am thankful for appreciating simple things in life, a shared cup of coffee in the morning, an evening spent on the beach either together or in reflective solitude, a freshly-opened flower or an apple fresh off the tree.

I am thankful to live in the United States....the wedges being driven leave me to fear for its future, but there is still no better nation to call home.

I am thankful for the opportunity to do what I grew up dreaming of doing. Why? I couldn’t tell you. But I always wanted to be involved in community journalism. Even though the “fake news” clamor (which, ironically, is in itself a carefully-calculated fraud foisted upon the public) has stained the media image in the eyes of many, I am proud to be in journalism.

And I am thankful that my wife Kat tolerates without complaint my long hours and late nights, that my boss puts up with all my idiosyncrasies and that our readers are usually forgiving of my missteps.

I am thankful for all the abundance that we enjoy in life....which comes in more forms than we can count.

I am thankful that I can laugh at myself when the occasion calls for it, shoulder the blame when it is my fault and apologize with sincerity.

I am thankful that I am not the same person at 60 that I was at 20 or 40.

I am thankful to realize that clothes do not make the man and that you are not what you drive.....that “things,” while nice, are nothing more than “things” at the end of the day.

And I am thankful that I remember to appreciate my blessings every day of the year, not just when the turkey is on the table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.