Less than 12 hours from now, Sparkle, the princess and I will be driving south to spend Thanksgiving with my family. This will be the first trip we’ve made down there in over a month, since the close of escrow on our house. While I’m not particularly looking forward to 300-some miles of driving (each way), it will be good to see my family again.

Given how crazy this year has been, I have taken more time this year than I usually do to reflect on what I’m thankful for. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to begin with, but this year, it just seems even more pertinent. So here they are, in no particular order:

1) Sparkle – I have no idea how I would have survived the past 8 months without my loving, wonderful wife. Honestly, without her, I probably never would have made this move…not because it wouldn’t have been a good thing, but because I probably wouldn’t have let myself take the chance. Even with being apart, she’s been there for me, supporting me and loving me, and I can’t thank her enough for that.

2) The princess – I know being apart from me was hard for her as well, but her natural exuberance and love never really let that show (at least when we’re together). Opening the front door at the end of the day and hearing her squeal “Daddy! You’re home!” is one of the best sounds in the world. Her whole life has been changed as well, and yet, every day is a new adventure for her. I love her excitement and curiosity, and her energy often energizes me (and sometimes exhausts me).

3) My parents – My parents seem to have finally reconciled with my sister over some issues that they, frankly, unfairly made into issues that never should have been. It’s been a painful chapter in our lives, but they do seem to be past it and for that I am truly thankful.

4) My sister, brother-in-law and soon-to-be niece or nephew – My sister married a wonderful man this past May, and put their honeymoon to good use as they’re expecting a child in February. I am so happy for her, and thankful that she has such a wonderful partner to start her own family with. I honestly can’t wait to be an uncle and hold that newest member of our larger family. And, of course, pay her back for all the times she’s spoiled our daughter.

5) Iris – I don’t know if Iris even now fully understands what a blessing she’s been in our lives. She’s struggled with many things in her own life over the past year, and yet she’s always been there for us. I know she was a tremendous help to Sparkle’s work and sanity during my absence, with taking care of our princess and being there as a friend for Sparkle. She’s more than a friend…she’s family, and all three of us are ever grateful for her presence in our lives. I’m also so very thankful that she and M have reconciled, to the point of moving in together.

6) Our new “life” – Hard as it has been at times, this move has been good in so many ways. I love my new job…it’s the first one in my 11 year career that I can see staying in long term. It’s still strange to me to think of myself as a full-time paid firefighter. At one point in my life, I’d hoped for that, but for the past several years, it’s not even been on the radar, and now here I am. We love the area, and in fact, just made an offer on a new house this week. We miss our friends and my family, of course, but friendships and family endure and it makes us appreciate the time we do have together with them even more.

There’s so much more. Other friends, other family. The financial stability we enjoy. All the blessings in our lives. I’m thankful for each of them, even the ones I can’t articulate.

What are you thankful for?