Dateline: Mobile, Alabama, Thanksgiving Day, 2011

And so it was in my fiftieth year, I spent my very first Thanksgiving Day alone.

Some of my fondest memories, both from childhood and adulthood, center on this day. The sweetest people I have ever known, the finest food I have ever eaten, the best football I have ever seen were all on Thanksgiving Day.

There have been touch football games on the street, ping pong tournaments in the church youth center, cat naps on the couch, and furious comeback victories in Texas stadium…all on Thanksgiving Day.

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It is possible, they say (whomever “they” are), to be alone and not be lonely. It is also possible to be lonely and not be alone.

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So today, my heart is overwhelmed with joy and my eyes so brim with tears, I can scarcely see the keyboard– Yes, I still peek at the keys when I type, but try to focus on what I’m really saying, will ya?– because today, my wife and kids will join my mom, my siblings and my siblings’ kids at my brother’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving…without me. My wife’s parents will be in Seattle, celebrating with my brother-in-law and his precious family. My sister-in-law and her bunch will all be together, celebrating my way-too-cool great nephew’s recent arrival.

And I will be here in Mobile…headed to Cracker Barrel.

But I am not sad.

I am glad my wife is so much a part of me that she can go see my family without me and not feel the least bit out of place. I am glad that there will be laughing and love and life will be at its best because the people I love are together.

It is possible, they say (whomever “they” are), to be alone and not be lonely. It is also possible to be lonely and not be alone.

I have never truly been alone and I have never really been all that lonely.

For that, I am thankful.