Thanksgiving Day is my favorite holiday, primarily because it is such a focus of family activity, but also because it has become the focal point of my year, a time when I reflect on what I have to be thankful for. Each of the Thanksgiving Days I have celebrated has its own distinct identity. The Thanksgivings of my childhood were spent with my mother’s relatives. They were huge affairs involving my maternal grandmother, my mother’s five siblings and their spouses, my 13 cousins and my own five siblings.

As an adult, living 2,000 miles away from my own family, my Thanksgiving holiday focused on my wife’s family and our new son. Though not as large as my own, it still was a very comforting group: her parents, two cousins, their spouses, their three children and our own young son. Our holiday would forever be altered by the death of my father-in-law, Bob, on Thanksgiving Day in 1986. Now my family always starts the day with fond memories of Bob and how much he enjoyed coming to our home for the holiday.

This year there will be fewer of our family around the dinner table. My children will be with their own families in California and Washington, DC. Our mothers, now 96 and 81 are too frail to make it to our home for dinner this year. We will have my wife’s brother, his wife and daughter here in our home, a special treat as it is his wife’s and daughter’s first Thanksgiving here in the US.

As much as I would like to have my own children, my father-in-law, my grandmother, my own father, and all the others I have shared my holiday table with in the past, here again this year, I am forever thankful I have the memories of the days gone by. I am even more thankful that I now can look forward to future holidays with my children and grandchildren.

I also look forward to more good times with the special friends I have made in the dog game these past 40 years. I believe that we in our sport have a special ability to look back at the past and be thankful for what we have experienced while looking forward to the good times ahead. It’s a lot to be thankful for. And that’s today’s Back Story.