Every year, on the fourth Thursday in November, families across the United States gather to give thanks. Some years, the “thanks” flow easily. Other years, families struggle to find the a reason for celebration.

Like so many before, this year brought us joy, sadness, and everything in-between. Life often gets compared to a roller coaster ride. A metaphor I’ve used, but truly don’t like.

Yes, we have ups, downs, and turns that you need a seat belt just to remain on the tracks. And yes, life can be over in a flash. But unlike the roller coaster, our lives aren’t stuck on a track where the wait seems to last 10x longer than the ride itself.

Our lives remain unpredictable in detail. We can never know how long our ride will last, or even who will share our experiences. We know that unlike the coaster, our ride will allow moments to be shared with an ever changing passenger list. Sure there are some constants, but our fellow riders will fade in and out.

Each year, as I sit down to write my Thanksgiving message, I’m often reminded how lucky I truly am. This year, I watched my sister get married in a beautiful, sunset ceremony on the Florida coast. I proposed to and married my wife at the happiest place on Earth. Whether by in-person hugs or text messages from thousands of miles away, all of my moments involved family.

My life remains great because of the family that surrounds me.

As I get older, I’ve had to say goodbye to some very close members of my family; and that pain is something that never gets easier. But I’ve also learned (through time), that when we say goodbye to those we love, we never lose them completely. Their impact on our lives becomes more evident as the years go by, making it easier to be thankful for the time we shared.

I truly am a lucky man. I’m blessed with a fantastic wife, amazing friends, and a family that I look forward to sharing the moments of life. I make no distinction between my close friends and the blood relatives that I share. I’ve said it before — friends are the family you choose.

With all the negative we hear daily, from economics to global warming, crime to catastrophe… it’s important to remember that every now and then, we should slow down, take a deep breath, and inventory all we have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my wife, my health, a roof over my head, food on the table, but most of all… I remain thankful for you. Thank you for being part of my family and allowing me to share the moments of my life. I’m thankful to be a part of yours, and look forward to the ups, downs, and wild turns we will share together.

Happy Thanksgiving