For me Thanksgiving is without question the best holiday of the year because it’s pure. 

Thanksgiving turkey (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Everyone who wants to can celebrate it, regardless of race or religion and it’s the one holiday in these politically-correct times in which you can’t offend anyone.   When you wish someone a Happy Thanksgiving you don’t have to fear the possibility that they may not acknowledge the holiday and you’ve said something wrong.  I mean have you ever seen a bumper sticker that read, “Put the Thanks back in Thanksgiving?”

However this year the day will be very different for many and finding reasons to be thankful may test their spirit.  While it’s common for people to spend the day at the homes of family or friends this year they will be doing it out of necessity because their homes have been destroyed or are off-limits.

Others don’t even have that option as they’ve been completely displaced and are in shelters in unfamiliar areas.  Clearly it’s a different Thanksgiving but hopefully most will be able to share the day with those who mean the most to them in some form of holiday setting.

To me it’s always been about the four F’s: family, food, football and fun.  Whether you are traveling or remaining ay home it’s a time for families to reunite and renew traditions that have in many cases been passed down from one generation to another.

For some the day will start by attending a high school football game, among them the 93rd meeting between Toms River South and Lakewood and the renewal of the Southern-Central Turkey Day rivalry which is back after a 28-year absence.

Eating is not done as a meal but in stages that often takes hours from beginning to end.  You try and adopt the philosophy that this is not a sprint but a marathon but before you know it you’re filling up and the turkey hasn’t even hit the table yet.  It’s just a matter of time before you need to loosen your belt or better yet wear those pants with the waists that stretch.

This year it may be harder than ever to give thanks for our blessings and we may have to search to find the good things in life but they are out there.  Just put down the fork for a moment and look around and you’ll find something to be thankful for: those at the table with you.