For the 1st time in 3 years I returned home for Thanksgiving and man, I was glad to be back. Out of the 4 years I was in NY I only returned home once, and I give a huge shout out to my cousin for that, because she helped me get a ticket home. I couldn't afford going home back to L.A. for Thanksgiving, and excluding that one year I stayed on the East Coast. I still remember missing my first "Turkey Day" ever freshman year and it was the worst. It was one of those moments where I realized I took the Holidays for granted before I moved. Still being young, I overlooked and didn't cherish family gatherings like that to the fullest. Luckily my mom has a cousin in Maryland, so I took a China Town bus to her home and spent the holiday weekend with her and her family. I am grateful that I was able to have a home cooked meal somewhere else, but there is nothing like mom's cooking. Sophmore year I was able to return and it was the best because I surprised my mom and I was able to enjoy the week with my family. It was something I missed the year before, and yes, I ate everything and anything on the table that year. It was also more enjoyable than previous years because I maximized and fully enjoyed all the time I had with them before I returned to NY. Junior and Senior year I had a couple of teammates, Ryan Haslett and Nick Mistretta, who invited me to their homes and spend it with their families. Obviosuly I prefer being with my own family, but those 2 Thanksgivings' were awesome. For example, I won a 3 ft., 21 lb chocolate bunny from Ryan's dad and I was lucky enough to enjoy Nick's mom's famous "Salami Bread" that she prepares from scratch for the holidays. Their families welcomed me into their homes as one of their own and it was cool relaxing and being part of their families for the weekend.
But back to this year; I am truly thankful for having a supportive and loving family, and for home cooked meals (something I missed while being in NY). Everybody was in attendance minus my brother Christian who goes to school at Baylor. Definitely missed his sarcastic jokes on Thursday but I am glad he was able to spend the holiday with his friends. I enjoyed playing with my beautiful niece and sitting around the table laughing and pigging out on turkey and desserts!! It was a meal well deserved though because I was sore and hungry from my cousin's annual "Turkey Bowl" in the morning. 15 years ago my cousin and his friends started a live contact (and no, we don't have football equipment) football game every year for Thanksgiving. It was only the 2nd time I have ever played in it, but it is another tradition I hated missing every year I was in NY. Even the year I came home I didn't play because I didn't want to risk getting hurt and my coaches freaking out, but it is what it is. Anyway, we hit the park early morning and it was good seeing old faces, and I mean that in the literate sense too. My cousin is a few years older than me, so lets just say I was considered one of the young bucks out there, but the game was competitive and fun. Miss playing football, and even though I didn't have a helmet it felt good hitting and tackling people; even though my body now hates me for it. Over the years the game has really become a family event with other family members, wives, kids and girlfriends sitting on the sideline cheering and laughing on how good and how bad some of us are. Than there is the routine half time with coolers filled of beer and my cousins boom box bumping music.
It goes back to the cliche "you never know what you really have until it's gone". Not to say that I would never celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family again, but for the 3 years that I didn't go home that is how I felt. And because of that I was able to fully celebrate it this year with my family and really appreciate moments where we all get together and forget about our problems. Especially for me as I am studying for the GRE and still on the hunt for an awesome job, it is my family that holds me down and supports me in whatever I do. It is crazy to see people on Facebook and Twitter be thankful for what they have , and than those same people go to the mall and wait for hours to spend a lot of money on things they already have. I just find it ironic that people are complaining about gas prices and not having money because of the economy, but yet millions of Americans went to malls and stores across the country to leave with their hands full and their wallets empty. But hey, I can't say anything. It is your money and you have every right to spend it the way you want too, but for me family and leftovers are all I need and are a couple things I am truly thankful for. NY was a great experience because I learned how to think and see things in a different perspective, and because of that I was able to reflect on the important things in life. Luxurious are nice, but for me, my family is a necessity and something I am working hard to never take granted for ever again.