Thanksgiving for Sports, Family and Friends

If you’re reading this, I’m probably six deviled balls deep and on my second glass of cider.

Yes, y’all, I’m going hard for Thanksgiving.

I get up early, put on my best ugly Christmas sweater, put cinnamon rolls in the oven, turn on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and start meal prep, which for me revolves around one golden rule: there can never be too many leftovers.

For some, Thanksgiving is all about a meal that brings the family together. For my foodie soul, it’s an all-day event.

It’s all about making the best homemade turkey gravy and dancing to oldies and Motown hits in the kitchen. It’s all about NYC marching bands, musicals and floats, followed by a loop of Christmas classics like “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

It’s about the Detroit Lions, no matter how hot or cold, ushering in a full day of football on the man cave TVs and wondering why I drafted so many Lions into my fantasy teams.

It’s about starting a puzzle after dinner — this year my fiancé Kristi got me a 4,000-piece Lego set of the McCallister house from Home Alone — and the day of “Christmas Vacation” over leftovers to finish Fel Eggs. It’s all about finding the perfect stretchy pant and testing the limits of that waistband.

This year, however, the pomp is gaining in importance. Wyatt, our 6 month old son, is a big reason for this. One day he will inherit my Clark Griswold sensitivity and when that day comes I will be the proudest dad ever.

Seth’s Top 10 Thanksgiving Side Dishes

1. Get dressed

2. Deviled eggs

3. Rice and Gravy (the binder to the plate)

4. Cabbage

5. Mac and Cheese

In this sense, the Turkey Day pageant would be nothing without thanks.

From my place at the forefront of the local sports scene, I am grateful that Choctaw’s Cinderella football team extended the football season to compete for a 3S state title. Two wins behind, three left.

I’m grateful that Niceville Athletics — led by Todd Brigman and Emily Webb — is the most dominant program in the Sunshine State.

I’m thankful for coaches like Meaghan Allen, Adron Robinson, Mercedez Claybrone, Shaun Arntz, Tobi Marez, and Meghan Darhower for unsolicited reporting of stats and scores. And I’m grateful for the hospitality I receive at Niceville High football games—Robinson always closes the parking lot and Rachel Morrison keeps me fed.

I’m thankful for coaches like Wes Nelson and Jeff Bradley who always give me a reason to travel down south for a state title (downtown Lakeland and DeLand are two of my favorite destinations). And I’m thankful for the abundance of state champions in the area (I see you Navarre).

I’m grateful for the region’s athletic directors and their tireless support of student athletes, and I’m grateful for all the assistant coaches who are underpaid and overworked and the team managers who fly under the radar but are essential to the operation.

Personally, I’m grateful to have the best partner in Kristi Holle. You are my everything and you have given me the greatest gift of all in Wyatt.

I am grateful to my caring and supportive parents, John and Mary Nell, who live within 4 miles.

I’m thankful for my best friend and big brother, Jordano my mano, who remains my favorite person of all time.

I am thankful for the health of my three cats (Boo, Jose Altuve and Otis), two dogs (Molly and Chloe) and bunny (Bunn).

I am grateful to have the fellowship of First Presbyterian Church in FWB where my father is a pastor.

I am grateful to have the best disc golf partner in Del Stone, yes THE LEGENDARY DEL STONE. We don’t always look pretty like clay pots, but we certainly laugh. I’m also thankful for a great cinema/donut hole bro in Dusty Ricketts.

And of course, I’m grateful to be a fan of the world champion Astros, baseball’s most dominant franchise right now.

On this day, I am reminded that I would not trade my family, friends, or this sporting community for anything else. Happy Thanksgiving everyone… don’t forget to say thank you.

Follow Sports Editor Seth Stringer on Twitter at @SethSnwfdn.

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