Today is a day of reflection for many. I’m no exception to that.

Every other year, when we gather at my father’s for Thanksgiving dinner, we all take a few moments to share with the family — now at nearly 20 people with in-laws and his grandkids — what we’re most thankful for.

This year is not one of those years I’ll be giving thanks with my family in person, but I want them to know that family is something I’m greatly thankful for.

It starts with my son. I know I’ve written about him many times, but I can’t look at his face and not see a miracle. His empathy, silliness and genuine desire to do well all amaze me every day. I really could not have asked for a more amazing son.

There’s also my dad, too. He is truly a role model to so many. He’s stared adversity in the face more than once and beat it. One of those times was when we lost my mother — he was raisng a college student, two high-schoolers and a junior high student when he found himself suddenly facing single parenthood. He persevered, continuing to work hard to provide for my siblings and I no matter the circumstances. He finds way to be there for us, no matter when or what, while always providing reason and advice. I’m grateful for a strong, caring father.

I’m also grateful for the time I had with my mother, although it was short. She taught me about what type of mother I want to be and how to always be there for her children. I hope to emulate her as I raise my children, and I hope to teach them about what a great woman Grandma Connie was.

I’m also thankful for my stepmother. It wasn’t easy to accept the fact that my dad was dating again, but he truly found another wonderful woman to share his life with. She has been there for us for many years, graciously hosting family gatherings and offering us emotional support and advice when we’ve needed it.

My siblings are wonderful, too, as are their children. My oldest brother married when I was somewhat young, and his marriage is also one I’ve tried to emulate. My other brother has always been someone I can be open and honest with, no matter what’s going on in my life, and he was the one I related to most as a child. My sister and I had a tense childhood, full of intense sibling rivalry, but it’s great to see her and catch up with her now and truly call her my friend.

As I watch my nieces and nephews grow, I’m full of pride of the fine young men and women they’re becoming. It’s hard to believe that one of them is in college now, but I’ve loved every minute of watching them grow.

I’m also very grateful for the family I’ve married into. Jason’s family accepted me as one of their own from the get-go, and I’ve always felt very blessed by that. They’re a warm, loving family, and I’ve truly come to think of them as my own.

And, I’m thankful for the family I got when I married. I found a husband who, though he can be challenging, makes me laugh and see the world in a different way. It’s true, marriage isn’t always easy, but I’m thankful to have a partner who is willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.

And, I’m thankful for the son I got because of Jason. It’s hard to believe in a year’s time we’ll be staring down graduation, but I’m so proud of the young man Logan’s becoming. I can’t imagine not having him in my life, and I truly do think of him as my son.

It’s been a life full of blessings, even through the difficult times. I’m actually grateful for the lessons those difficult times have taught me — if I had to go through them anyway, I’d rather they have a purpose.

I hope you find plenty to be thankful for today — and every day — as well. I wish all our readers a very happy Thanksgiving.

— Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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