Thanksgiving always has been good to my family. But my wife, Cheryl, topped all expectations in 1995 by giving birth on Thanksgiving to our twin sons, Ross and Ben. We added Will in 1999. As I have for every Thanksgiving since that emotional holiday when we became parents, I ask your indulgence as my family shares some thankful moments from the last year. We are thankful:
For the 18th birthday that bestows all sorts of new adult freedoms and responsibilities on Ben and Ross, and gives Cheryl and me heightened appreciation for the 3½ years before Will gets there.
For the way Ross writes his movie scripts on a manual typewriter, which he had to buy because his mom and I got rid of our typewriters decades ago.
For the way Ben's oboe solos during the high school production of "Les Miserables" bring tears of happiness to the eyes of the orchestra pit director.
For the way Will starts his high school soccer career by scoring a goal off a corner kick the first second he steps foot on the field.
For the way Will worked so hard to make good baseball and basketball teams in his last year of middle school, even as he was accepting the realization that he wouldn't be playing those sports for his high school.
For the way Cheryl spends far, far more time and energy getting our boys to complete their college applications than she did on her own when she was their age, and for how she'd probably find the perfect schools for her and me if our GPAs weren't older than many college professors.
For the way neither of our new drivers has yet to get a traffic ticket or file an insurance claim, and that no injuries accompanied the scratches, dings and dents that should allow our battered garage to file a restraining order against them.
For the older boys' road trips (solo and with friends) to the farm for visits with Grandma Lois and an escape from suburbia.
For Grandpa Paul's repeated attempts to install a kid-pleasing basketball hoop on a driveway where landscaping, wind and gravity conspire against him.
For the way Grandma Jean enthusiastically goes to concerts and compliments Ben on his oboe, Will on his saxophone and Ross on his camera work.
For cousins, and the joy they bring.
For the way the news coverage of JFK's assassination anniversary on Nov. 22 brings back memories of how my wife was desperate to hold off delivery until Nov. 23 to avoid a historical tragedy-associated birthday for Ross and Ben.
For the realization that she also unknowingly managed to delay Will's birth until the day after the anniversary of Abe Lincoln's death.
For the way my mistakes as a father make me appreciate my dad, Willy, even more.
For college visits that double as vacations.
For the way my beautiful and grace-filled wife keeps the four men in her life inspired, engaged, organized and grateful that she is like an onion that adds a layer of new skills with each passing year.
For the anticipation of Ben and Will playing soccer together for fun on a team in the spring.
For those moments when we can visualize all three boys as adults.
For the way the worry we parents have if our kids don't have plans doesn't quite rival the worry we have when they do.
For the way those teenage boys all grew closer together this year by appreciating their differences.
For the boys' honesty when lies might be easier for them and us.
For the guys' understanding that they have passed the point when their mom and I can help them with Italian, physics or math homework.
For the way their girlfriends help us envision a future where our family might be redefined.
For the supper table when the boys put down their cellphones, eat home-cooked meals and join in real family conversations -- also known as the best three minutes of the day.
For the way all five of us are healthy and have been able to find and keep jobs in this economy, which remains unkind for many people.
For the way finding a Lego or a Nerf dart in a forgotten jacket pocket can transport me to a time when life was mostly about playing.
For the appreciation for how those sleepless nights as new parents prepared us for all those nights when we take turns staying awake until the last kid comes home and everyone is safe.
For the way our regrets about life rushing into the future too quickly remind us that the passage to get here has been so enjoyable.
As our family celebrates today's holiday, we wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, and the chance to ponder a thanks list of your own.