Why I’m stuffed with gratitude this Thanksgiving

How could a holiday top Thanksgiving? All you’re asked to do is eat delicious food, meet with relatives, watch football games, and be thankful! I’m grateful for so much this year, and what better way to express my gratitude than a column on my virtual man cave? These are some of the reasons I’m smiling this Thanksgiving, from the pro sports world to the cross country course to the movie theater and beyond.

Coming into their annual Thanksgiving matchup, against the Los Angeles Chargers, my favorite NFC team, the Dallas Cowboys, aren’t where I’d hoped they would be at this point in the season and they’re on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. But despite the absences of three of the best players in the league in running back Ezekiel Elliott, tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee, the Cowboys haven’t thrown in the towel. Regardless of whether they sneak into the playoffs this season, I’m thankful that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next decade.

Conversely, my favorite AFC team, the Baltimore Ravens, have had some abysmal offensive performances this year but find themselves in the driver’s seat in the race for the last AFC wild card. The defense has recorded three shutouts and is the main reason that the Ravens could be a threat come January. I’m also thrilled for an exciting football season and playoff race so far.

In baseball, my Chicago Cubs failed to defend their World Series championship, but their season was far from a failure. The Cubs won the NL Central division for the second straight year and defeated the local Washington Nationals in a thrilling five-game series before falling to the eventual NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs’ core is still intact, so another World Series run could be in the cards.

Finding something to be thankful for in my NBA team, the Orlando Magic, is a difficult task since they have been awful the past six seasons, but their promising start to the season definitely made me proud to be an Orlando fan. After starting a shocking 6-2, Orlando has dropped 7 of its last 9, so maybe the Magic has run out (pun intended). Still, it was fun while it lasted.

On the college ranks, I witnessed a dominant run by the North Carolina Tar Heels with their national title in men’s basketball. Speaking of UNC, one of my best experiences ever was traveling down to Chapel Hill last summer for a four-day sports journalism camp.

Cross country and track have also given me a lot to be thankful for. In track, I qualified for states in the 1600 meters for the first time and set a new personal best with 4:26 (twice). In cross country, my team silenced all the haters and placed second in the county and sixth in the state. I also notched a new 5K personal best, 15:39, and set a new school record in the process. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to run at a varsity level, for brilliant coaches and supportive teammates, for classy competitors that push me to the best I can be, and for all the memories I’ve made this past year.

As a big movie fan, this year has had some solid films, but the slate of upcoming movies couldn’t be better. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ready Player One, and Incredibles 2 on the way, all of my dreams are making it to the big screen and there’s never been a better time to be a movie enthusiast. On the smaller screen, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to work on some pretty cool projects, including The Rise, the Fall, and the Return of Nicky G, Oh We Rollin, Game of Thrones: The Making of a Musical Chairs Champ, Antiques Roadshow: PA Edition, and my Riker Rants vlogs.

The past calendar year has been filled with a whole lot of firsts that make me so grateful. My first job, at the nearby water store, has been a perfect opportunity to work on homework and make some dough at the same time, and my boss and fellow employees have been so helpful. Getting my driver’s license has definitely lived up to the hype as it makes it so much easier to get around. I’d also say that I’m thankful for the new responsibilities and freedoms I’ve gotten as a teenager.

In the classroom, I have been blessed with stellar teachers and classmates that make learning bearable. I’m especially thankful for the life-saving MCPS grading policy that makes the semester grade the higher of the two quarter grades, which has made my transcript look a bit more respectable. I’m also thrilled for strong test scores that have put a merciful end to studying for standardized tests. In my newspaper class, I’ve loved writing a sports column every issue called Varsity Letter that has given me a platform to entertain, educate, and emote.

I couldn’t be more thankful than all of the relationships that are so special to me. I’m beyond thankful for my caring parents, for my enthusiastic and entertaining three brothers and sister, and for my loving grandparents and relatives. My friends also mean so much to me and I’ve greatly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with them, whether it’s eating lunch with my girlfriend Alyssa, shooting hoops with my friend Richard, working on video projects with my buddies Kevin and Joe, or taking the starting line or messing around with my varsity teammates. I’m thankful for Jesus and all of the people in my youth group, especially high school director Nate and all of the pre-Sunday School breakfasts at the bagel shop. I’m infinitely thankful for all of them.

And I definitely can’t forget about you guys, my loyal subscribers. Hearing all of your feedback on my content makes doing this so rewarding and I can’t overstate how much your support means to me. Thanks, and have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

3 thoughts on “Why I’m stuffed with gratitude this Thanksgiving

  1. WOW, I’m so happy to hear that you’re having such a great year! It’s great to read your column and see all the things you’re grateful for! I’m so glad you broke your record in track And had your personal best run. I enjoy following the teams that you like. I’ll see you later today at Thanksgiving. Please drive carefully When you come up for Thanksgiving. Also, I’m glad that you have a job and a sweet girlfriend. Love, grandma Angie


  2. Hi John, This is an excellent article. I love reading your articles. Your Grandmom is your cheerleader. Great work. Aunt Ellie


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