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Thanksgiving Day - the beginning of our holiday season. It’s actually my favorite holiday, when two days of grocery shopping and cooking ends with 15 minutes of eating! It’s the moments of family time during those 48+ hours that I enjoy. Thanksgiving is truly what we are thankful for this previous year, and I’m so thankful for my families, starting with my wife who lifts me up every day and supports my contrary, cantankerous, moody, fun loving, culinary butt. When people talk about their Rock of Gibraltar, well, she is mine!

I'm thankful for Bo and Sarah, brother and sister, father and mother, uncle and aunt. We lost them both this year, gone but not forgotten. They will be with us in spirit and heart.

I’m thankful for my immediate family, starting with my mom, who lost her husband of 65 years in April, and that she is still with us. I’m thankful for my father-in-law, Ray, who will be bringing the pies, thankful for my sister-in-law, Kathy, her sons, James and Ben, who are keeping their Philadelphia Eagles-loving husband/father, Kevin, back in “Whocaresland”!! I’m very thankful to have one of my two brothers still with us, Alan, and his kiddos, Golden and Tanner. Finally all my aunts (Hi, Mary Jane), uncles, cousins who are too many to list, I’m so thankful that so many of us reconnected this last year!

Now, I’m so thankful for all of our kids who have spread their wings throughout the country, facing their own challenges and adventures (a.k.a. “eventures”), living their lives with reckless abandon towards life, Court and Jillian, Allie, JT and Brooke, Annie, Brianna, and I’m especially thankful that our youngest, Moo Moo, came to us on a Thanksgiving Day, November 23 in the year of 2000. We get to celebrate her birthday this year on this Thanksgiving Day, YAY!!

There is my extended family of friends, small but true to Newton, whom have endured my quirkiness for many years. Heck, they must be gluttons for punishment, however the culinary benefits and true friendship through anything must keep them hanging on! Man, am I thankful.

Then there is my third family who lived an incredible journey with me in the last 18 months. It started with 80 who came from all around this country and even beyond our borders to bring one passion of commonality, FOOD! For some of us this journey wasn’t as long as we hoped, and for others it was one long helluva ride. I give thanks for those incredible life long journey of memories. I love you all and miss you! Yes, even Jeff, whom I’m very thankful for his friendship and kinship!!

Last, but not least, I give thanks to those whom stand on our borders and abroad, fighting for ours and other's freedom. God bless you all!

With that out of the way, this brings me back to memories. As I get long in the tooth, I’ve gathered many memories of Thanksgiving. One of my favorites of many was in 1967. I was sick that year and was at my Grandparent's farm house in Shady Grove. While my brothers and cousins ran amuck, I was relegated to the oval hoop rug in front of the fireplace with my Tonka toys. The sound of the fire crackling, my cousins and brothers coming and going, my grandmother and aunts chatter in the kitchen cooking, and my grandfather and father talking idly about life. It wasn’t just the sounds, it was also the smells; the smell of the oak wood burning in the fireplace, the sweet smell of my grandfather’s pipe tobacco, and finally the “pièce de résistance” the smell of Thanksgiving cooking in the kitchen. Yes, that smell of turkey cooking in my grandmother's roaster, the smell of pies cooking and/or cooling, bread baking, food simmering, etc. Oh yeah, that cooking smell that you experience only once, maybe twice in a year, if you're lucky, that stand alone combination of Thanksgiving cooking! That, combined with the sounds, I hadn’t experienced ever again until 2002 when I was at my first In-Law's house in El Cajon, CA, just outside of San Diego, sharing a Thanksgiving. I was standing outside with my first father-in-law, Jim, and uncle-in-law, Thad, while my first mother-in-law, Suzy, and her sister, Jane, were in the house preparing a Thanksgiving meal. While we were outside, we could hear that chatter from the kitchen, our kiddos running rampant, two men chatting about their opposite coast lives. We had a small fire going, patio door was ajar from the kids coming and goings, and Thad was smoking a pipe. It came upon me fast, and suddenly I was transported back to 1967, the hoop rug, pipe smoking, Thanksgiving cooking smells, sounds, 1967. Nothing better, my friends! It was deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would put it. That 2002 Thanksgiving, one of my most peaceful in a very long time, allowed me to celebrate with absent friends and family, along with those there.

So, on this day as we give our “Thanks”, it is my hope and prayer that you, too, will celebrate and create as endearing memories full of love, laughter, maybe even a few tears, sounds, smells, and of course, the sights and tastes of your own Thanksgiving Feast.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all, from the House of Newton’s!

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