Personally, I like the idea of a holiday that’s designed to make you sit back and think about what you have in your life, and really appreciate it. If the same holiday weren’t marred by the onslaught of Christmas commercialism writ large, it would be perfect.

Thanksgiving has always been about family for me. When I was a boy, my Uncle Frank, who had six kids of his own (an incomprehensible arrangement for someone raised as an only child like me), would play host to his seven siblings and their children for Thanksgiving in his Evansville home. For a few days, my family that consisted of a me and a single Mom would explode into a cacophony of 24 first cousins of all ages all hanging out, playing, and eating in what seemed to me the biggest house in the world.

In terms of age, I was in the middle of the cousins, part of a batch of kids that were all born in the late 60s, bracketed by older tweens and teenagers who were too cool to associate with us and yet too cool not to be an instant draw for the likes of us. On the other side were the younger kids, fun to play with and help us stay out of trouble when things went sideways. Which they would inevitably do.

It was not perfect, by any means. What could only be classified as sibling rivalry would show up as near-constant bickering with one of my cousins and I, and, ham that I was, I would tend to act out in ways that likely drove my Mom nuts.

But I loved those reunions.

Around the time Cindy and I were first married, was the last Evansville reunion, and I was thrilled to bring my new wife into this part of my life. By then, we were the young adults, going out and drinking at a karaoke bar that I would really really like to forget. But it was family and it was, for me, coming home.

Today, my cousins have scattered across the country, and we have familes of their own, some even grandkids. We get together sometimes, for holidays, weddings, and, more sadly, funerals.

And there are always echoes of the cacophony. I have a loud, noisy, laughing family, and I am thankful for them all.

If you are wondering, I’m the kid in the front, sitting and rubbing my face.