When I awoke last week on Thanksgiving morning, I cheerfully said “Happy Thanksgiving” to a handful of the other inmates in my unit, most of whom I’m friends with. But I also went one step further this year. After saying Happy Thanksgiving, I said to each person, “Now tell me, what are you most thankful for?” I got a few strange looks and a few umms…..but for the most part, all the inmates I asked actually told me what they were thankful for and were legitimately sincere about it. I had a few off-the-wall responses, but the number one answer that people gave me was “family”. What astonished me was that when most people gave me their answer, they would tell me why they were thankful for what they said, even going into details. What I liked most, though, when talking with them, was the smile on their faces. I could tell that they were extremely passionate and proud, especially if they were talking about their family.
I know I could go on and on about my family. Being away from them these past four years is when I have needed them the most. They have all been with me every step of the way, supporting me, forgiving me, and continuing to pour out their love to me. This is my fourth Thanksgiving away from them, missing out on all the family traditions of each holiday.
You should know that I am also thankful that I have had another family while here in Texas – this time a family of inmates, some of whom I am proud to call my friends. Even though they come and go, we also have started Thanksgiving traditions like football games, post Thanksgiving feast meals (I like to eat on Thanksgiving!!), and game nights.
I do believe Thanksgiving is a time to be around family, whatever kind of family you may have. Yes, even that cranky old uncle that you have to face every year!! Family is the reason why the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the busiest traveling weekend of the year. Most people are thankful to be around their loved ones, creating lasting memories.
I truly miss it all, and cherish all the memories that have occurred from years in the past. I know the first Thanksgiving after my release will probably have a different but deeper meaning than any other I have known. I know there will be so much I’m thankful for, even the small things people take for granted, like a second glass of milk or enough butter for your entire roll or the smell of turkey in the oven. But first and foremost it all starts with thanksgiving for my family and loved ones. I can’t wait to gather around the table with all of them again. If you haven’t already, tell your family today just how truly thankful you are of them.
Dad, Mom, Angie, Eric and Kyle (and Tim, Emily, and Dana)…….thank you all for being an amazing family. You have all continued to pour out your love to me through this whole ordeal. I couldn’t ask for a better family. The fifteen minute phone calls I make may not be that important to you, but they mean the world to me. I honestly am filled with excitement the entire day, knowing that in the evening time I will be talking to you. Thank you for supporting me, encouraging me, and not giving up on me every step of the way. I don’t know when this will be over, but in my opinion, it doesn’t matter because I know that you will continue to be a perfect example of a perfect family. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I love and miss you all.