Ahhh… Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite holidays (if not my absolute favorite holiday) is fast approaching. Can you really blame me? I’m one of those people who firmly believes that getting to enjoy good food is one of the best experiences life has to offer! Anyone could probably tell just by taking one look at me! And Thanksgiving is a day that totally encourages Americans around the country to indulge. Take the time off from work, prop up your feet, and feast on a delicious meal!

I’m also beginning to find it very fortuitous that it takes place shortly after an election that has so many people fired up. Protests are taking place because fear and tension are on the rise. Even though I can’t exactly blame people for being angry and fearful, it’s important to remember and recognize Thanksgiving. It’s a time to remember how blessed we are as a country and as individuals. It’s time for us to pause and reflect and be grateful for what we already have as opposed to changing what we do not.

That being said, here are ten different things that I’m personally grateful for. I can’t say whether they’ll all be profound gems because I sure do love some silly stuff. But they’re important to remember and celebrate for Thanksgiving nonetheless. Be sure to let me know what you’re thankful for this holiday season in the comments section at the bottom or in the new-and-improved user forums! 

1. My Loved Ones! 

I get by with a little help from my friends. And also my family members, close coworkers, and my pets!

One such meme about 2016 just being the WORST!

Earlier this year, I lost an uncle on my mother’s side of the family to an unexpected heart attack. We very nearly also lost my aunt to the same ailment and my sister to a crazy nasty infection/diabetes combo. We also made the decision to euthanize my sweet kitten Oliver after he came down with a debilitating case of feline leukemia. Needless to say, it’s been a little bit of a rough year for the people and animals that I love. Even though they seem to empathize more with the huge amount of celebrities who passed away, I’m still right there in agreement with the memes floating around social media labeling 2016 as the year of one disaster after another.

My sister is okay or at least on the mend now. She’s finally home from the rehabilitation center she had to stay in for a few weeks and gets to start leading her normal life again. And thankfully, my other two kitties are doing just fine and seem to have no trace of the feline leukemia virus. Oliver’s brother Rufus was recently neutered and he went through that surgery with flying colors! He’s also gaining weight like crazy. And my grouchy older cat Tigger even seems to be coming out of his general moodiness and lethargy that he’s been displaying lately! Just in time for the holidays, things are (hopefully) starting to look up. And since I have a hard time dealing with the struggles of everyday life without them, I hope that trend continues well into the New Year.

2. (Almost) All The Pumpkin Pie! 

Pumpkin pie has been a seasonal favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Maybe even since I was a baby! There’s nothing else in the world like getting that first slice of the season. Especially if it’s still warm from the oven with a big dollop of Cool Whip! The scent alone is sometimes enough to send me into sensory overload. Over the last several years, maybe since the induction of the glorious Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, the demand for pumpkin-flavored everything has practically exploded. Now we can almost certainly expect to see a deluge of pumpkin flavored, scented, or inspired products at the beginning of autumn every year.

I still love the original homemade pumpkin pie and even a PSL every now and again, but there are admittedly some pumpkin products are truly distressing. Though I’m certain they have to be a joke (right?!), it definitely went a step too far with the idea of pumpkin spice feminine hygiene products. I think it’s time for us to back up and start letting manufacturers know that not everything needs to be pumpkin spice! Lovely desserts and warm beverages are wonderful. Scented candles and fragrances are even okay. But once you start putting it in beer or slathering it into your toiletries, it’s a disturbing sign that things have gone too far. I mean, there are other important Thanksgiving desserts too. For instance, we can’t do Thanksgiving in our family without a pecan pie for my dad! And Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies (COME ON PATTI!!!!) practically fly off the shelves at Wal-Mart!

But if I’m being honest? Though it’s gotten a little hand, I look forward to “pumpkin season” all year long. Within reason, of course.

3. Netflix With The Gilmore Gals! 

We all love Netflix, right? It’s one of those inventions that comes along every once in a blue moon that makes us all wonder how we ever lived our lives before it. In fact, I recently realized after adding the Netflix app to my new phone that I don’t think there’s a single screen in my ownership that doesn’t have the ability to stream Netflix now. The app is on my phone, on my tablet, on my Kindle Fire. I can access it on the web and even watch it on TV via my Xbox One or Roku. That’s pretty crazy to think about! Especially since Netflix didn’t even exist until the late ’90s and, even then, they were mostly just into DVD rentals. Now they’re so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to find someone who still prefers to watch traditional television!

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life debuts on Netflix the day after Thanksgiving!

Arguably the biggest reason why Netflix does so well is not just because of it’s original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. But they’re also garnering a reputation for staging exciting reunions and picking up revivals or continuations of beloved properties from the past. Now we’re officially 12 days away from the revival that so many of us had begged for but never thought would happen: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Revolving around a manic mother-daughter pair in a charming little New England village, Gilmore Girls ended its run without its original creators at the helm and left longtime fans feeling a tad disappointed. But now, the day after Thanksgiving, the Gilmores are back (literally almost all of them!) with creator Amy Sherman-Palladino back in control! She will finally be able to give the series the proper closure it has always needed. Or maybe she’ll leave it open-ended in case Netflix wants more?

No matter what they decide, we couldn’t be more thankful to have something to dive into while we snack on our Thanksgiving leftovers!

4. My Bamboo Pillow! 

As someone who used to wake up with chronic pain in my neck and shoulders from how I slept, which often times would radiate up and cause major tension headaches, this bamboo pillow that I bought about a year ago was basically sent from heaven! I heard about them after seeing a display inside of a Kroger store but they were selling there for about $60 per pillow, which seemed pretty steep — even if it was specially developed for people like me to get a better night’s sleep!

I wound up finding them on sale for much cheaper online. They may not be the same brand name if that matters to you, but pain relief is good no matter what brand name it comes packaged as! If you suffer from pain related to the position your neck is in while sleeping, you should consider buying one for yourself! Here is a link to the much cheaper version that I bought!

5. Being an American! 

This might still be a little bit of a sensitive topic for a lot of people after an intense election season. It seems nearly everyone either strongly supports or vehemently opposes our new President-elect. No matter which camp you fall into though, it’s hard to deny how blessed we are to live in a nation that allows us to choose and exercise that freedom to vote in the first place. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer recently gave a beautiful interview on Chelsea about the election results and how we need to put aside our hatred and biases and come together now more than ever. Take a look below:


At the end of the day, if you’re thrilled that Donald Trump won the White House, you were likely already proud and are still proud to be an American. But it’s a little bit harder for those who voted for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or maybe even Harambe. Many want to get mean and ugly and tear the victors down. Many want to pack up and move to Canada or some other country just to escape it all. But to paraphrase Barbara Boxer’s message in the video above, we can’t go towards the darkness. We have to go toward the light. This isn’t my country or their country. This is our country and that’s one of the most beautiful things about it.

I can’t think of many things to be more proud of this Thanksgiving.

6. The Internet! 

Confession: I’ve been addicted to the internet since the very first day that I used it.

AOL Welcome Screen
“Welcome! You’ve got mail!”

When I was a teen and still using AOL on our dial-up modem, I loved being able to join public chat rooms and make friends from all over the world. Though countless horror stories have cropped up since those days and the idea of a teenager talking to strangers online makes most people uncomfortable at the very least. Thankfully nothing frightening ever happened to me. In fact, I’m still close “real life” friends with several people that I met years ago on the internet. After all, for an introverted kid like myself, it was a lot easier to make friends through a computer than it was to try and break the ice in high school. In fact, I like to attribute everything I know about socializing and human behavior to all my time spent online!

Even beyond the ability to socialize with fascinating people I would normally never meet, the internet is a wonderful tool. We like to blame the so-called “downfall” of our society on it, but the web is also the single most influential educational tool ever created. You can learn and find basically any information you could ever dream of by simply hitting up Google. The ability to learn and research at a much quicker pace has allowed for the medical, technical, and scientific communities (among others!) to flourish. Even on a personal level, if you aren’t sure how to cook your turkey this Thanksgiving, just do a quick search on YouTube! There are tutorial videos on how to do practically anything!

7. Being In My Thirties! 

I was a little bit petrified to enter my thirties. I always felt like most people had their life together and were so cool and sophisticated by the time they reached their third decade. Little did I know that’s because your third decade is actually when you start putting it all together!

Let’s be honest: Most people’s teens are spent being stupid and dreaming about the future. Then you reach your twenties and you think you have it all figured out. Either that or you’re too busy drinking and partying to bother. I think it was finally within the last couple of years though that I really started understanding more about who I was as a person. The notion that I really could be my own person finally started sinking in. I don’t feel as worried or as pressured to be what everyone else thinks I should be anymore.

As a result, I’ve fully started embracing more of the dweeb-like qualities of my persona (have you seen this very website?!). I’ve also gone completely meat-free vegetarian in solidarity and support of our world’s animal kingdom! That may have been somewhat a direct result of my becoming a “crazy cat guy,” even though my family had always loved and owned dogs in the past! In spite of all the naysayers that think college is a waste of time, I’m finally getting off my butt and getting it done — even though it means having to apply for the nightmare of student loans.

Finally figuring yourself out is awesome. And what’s even more awesome is knowing you’re awesome, even when others might say otherwise! This Thanksgiving, I’m definitely grateful for that feeling.

8. Vegetarian & Vegan Options! 

It might sound incredibly difficult if you love meat, but you want to know a secret? Going vegetarian was actually so much easier than I thought! Seriously!

Taco Bell's 7-Layer Burrito
Yo quiero 7-Layer Burrito at Taco Bell!

When I adopted Tigger a few years ago, I became a pet owner for the first time since I was very young. Over the years of having him and Rufus in my life, I completely rediscovered my love of animals. Doing more to support that love eventually turned me down the path of vegetarianism. Once you see the absolute horror the animals we consume go through, it will make you think twice. These are living, breathing beings who are afraid and desperately want to live. And they deserve the opportunity to do so. This isn’t just our planet. It’s completely inhumane how humans treat them and murder them for our own benefit. Eventually, one day after viewing an undercover slaughterhouse video, I decided that I didn’t want to eat animal corpses anymore. And I haven’t since. That was five months ago.

I thought the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday would be a challenge though. After all, the holiday typically revolves around the feasting of a giant cooked turkey and other animal byproducts. It turns out there are plenty of tasty-looking holiday alternatives for both vegetarians and vegans! I’m totally having a Tofurky this year, but I know that I’m definitely thankful for these alternatives this holiday season — and every other day of the year! (I mean, c’mon, if you can still eat at Taco Bell what more do you need?)

9. Work, School & pawTree! 

When school starts up, I’ll probably be so busy and exhausted that I’ll regret putting this on my Thanksgiving list. But I’m genuinely just completely grateful to have a job, being enrolled in school, and have my part-time sales gig! Being gainfully employed is not exactly the most common thing in the world right now. Members of my immediate family aren’t even currently employed! Needless to say, having a steady income is absolutely something to rave about right now. The addition of selling high-quality pawTree pet food and treats helps supplement that even more. I discovered relatively recently that I’m a little bit of a completionist. That fact makes me I think that once I get the ball rolling with school, it’ll be difficult to stop. When it comes to getting an education, that’s not completely a bad thing.

More than anything this year, I’m excited to have something else to do than just work! I worked part-time for FedEx for eight years. They are a great company to work for, but I spent so much of that time not doing much else. I was so bored and unsatisfied with my life. Now I’m thankful to finally have the desire and motivation to start turning things around. And that starts by having something to focus on outside of simply earning a paycheck.

10. Amazon Prime! 

Need I say more? Amazon Prime might be the single most amazing service you can pay for on the internet. I think my earlier entry of Netflix could be the only exception! I really love Google and WordPress and a lot of the popular social media sites, but you can’t beat Amazon. You can purchase practically anything there! But when you add Prime for free two-day shipping, free video and music streaming, free Kindle books, free photo storage, and tons of other amazing perks? Well, it’s a deal that’s practically unbeatable and is still currently unrivaled by any other e-retailer. Sometimes I still rely on heading to Wal-Mart or Target if I have an immediate need for something. But if it’s something that I can get for cheap on Amazon and don’t mind waiting two days for it? You better believe they’re getting my business first!

What are you thankful for this year? Sound off in the comments below or by joining our new-and-improved user forums!

Author: Joseph Black

According to Wikipedia, I discovered magnesium and carbon dioxide, so that's something.

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