I'm something of a Thanksgiving Scrooge. (I apologize for mixing holiday references. Feel free to throw gravy at me.)
Growing up, my paternal grandparents lived down the street. All our other family members lived far away and never came around, so Thanksgiving would just be my mom and dad and the grandparents. There was nothing new to talk about since we saw each other all the time, so the whole affair felt stilted, like we were trying too hard.
Add to that a few other factors -- I don't like big, heavy meals; I don't like getting dressed up (or wearing pants, for that matter); and the average Thanksgiving menu consists of several foods on my Ick List -- and you'll understand why Thanksgiving ranks a rung or two below Arbor Day on my holiday ladder.
But there is one exception to my insufferable negativity: thankfulness.
I appreciate the "thanks" part of Thanksgiving, and I love when we take time to reflect on all there is to be grateful for, like family, friends and charming newspaper columnists. (I just wish we could do the thankfulness part without having to wear pants and eat barf-o stuffing and listen to drunk uncles slur terrible jokes.)
With that in mind, I will share some of the many things I'm thankful for this year. Rest assured I'm typing this while wearing comfy shorts and sheltering 47 turkeys in my basement.
I'm thankful for the lawyers who rushed to Chicago airports to assist immigrants caught up in the Trump administration's various attempts at a travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries. It was an inspiration to see professionals jump, without hesitation, and come to the aid of those wrongly targeted by a decidedly un-American order.
I'm thankful there's still no stupid wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
I'm thankful there are still people out there who believe in facts.
I'm thankful for all the women who have stepped forward to reveal the staggering scope of sexual harassment and sexual assault in this country. Their courage will make us a better society.
I'm thankful for Chance the Rapper, one of the few high-profile Chicagoans who seems to truly care about the youth in our city. His SocialWorks organization has raised more than $2 million for Chicago Public Schools this year.
In September, Chance said: "Quality education for public schools is the most important investment a community can make." He gets it. We need more like him.
I'm thankful for anyone out there who has contemplated suicide but found a way to not take that step. Suicide rates have been rising, reaching a 30-year high last year, and an average of 121 people a day take their lives. This is a crisis we have to address, and I'm thankful for the people and organizations out there helping humans recognize their own worth each day.
I have a friend who struggles with depression and has attempted suicide, and I'll say to everyone out there what I said to him: The world is a far better place with you in it -- always.
I'm thankful for journalists who are doing their jobs despite relentless attacks on the free press coming from the highest office in the land.
I'm thankful to the many Americans out there who have not accepted President Donald Trump's behavior as normal. I'm thankful for those who remain shocked, on an almost daily basis, at Trump's degradation of the basic norms of decency that come with the office he holds.
I'm thankful for the people who call their elected representatives to let their voices be heard. I'm thankful to the lawmakers who actually listen.
I'm thankful for dogs. They're a beacon of light in dark times. (Cats are good too. Please don't send mean emails, cat people.)
I'm also thankful for cute animal videos on the internet, without which most of us would likely have gone mad already.
I'm thankful for zombies. Whether in "The Walking Dead" or "Fear the Walking Dead" or "The Walking Dead Christmas Special" (I may have made that last one up), I love zombies and always will. Perhaps it's because I relate to them on an intellectual level. Or maybe it's because I respect their singular focus on eating slow-moving people. Doesn't matter. More zombies, please.
Finally, I'm thankful to everyone who reads this column. When I wrote about my dad dying over the summer, the response from readers was humbling and overwhelming. It helped, and I'm truly honored to have that connection.
Whether you like me or want to throw hot garbage at me, we are all -- one way or another -- in this together.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts.
And I wish you all a safe, happy and staggeringly wonderful Thanksgiving.
(Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @RexHuppke.)