Thanksgiving has a long history of being my least favorite holiday. The reason is simple: turkey sucks! There, I said it. It’s ok to have a different opinion, but I’m right. No offense to my mother, but it’s always dry. It isn’t her fault. There isn’t enough water in the ocean to make turkey moist. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving involve two ounces of turkey swimming in four cups of gravy. Not even gravy could save Thanksgiving.

There is one exception to this rule and that is the Thanksgiving sandwich at PomPom’s Tea House and Sandwicheria. They have locations in both St. Pete and Orlando, so check it out. This is not a paid advertisement nor do I expect free sandwiches in return. It’s just that good and needs to be mentioned in any discussion I have about Thanksgiving. I digress.

As I got older, the list of what I didn’t like about Thanksgiving grew. This includes the big Thanksgiving Day Parade. Parades need to be fun in order for them to be useful. Pride parades are exciting with the dual purpose of activism and celebration. The Thanksgiving parade is a three-hour commercial for whatever station is hosting it. Sure, it’s got balloons, but when the wind picks up, cute little Snoopy turns into deadly Cujo. Although I am a huge Broadway fan, the lip syncing performances don’t do it for me. I know, nobody can sing in those freezing temperatures. Even the people watching it on the streets look miserably cold.

Once Santa rolls through in the big parade, we get introduced to my next Thanksgiving pet peeve: football. People say baseball is boring, yet they can watch football for an entire day. Snooze! In order to get through it I pretend they are all at a K-Mart on Black Friday and the football is the blue light special.

Finally, when it’s time to eat you have to say what you are thankful for. What a pain, right? I’m pretty sure when I was a kid I said I was grateful for the Smurfs. Basically, I just wanted to eat so I threw something out there to move it along.

Clearly, I am the Thanksgiving Scrooge. That’s how things were until one Thanksgiving a few years back. Everyone gathered at my house: my parents, my brother’s family and my roommate’s family. Since it was my house, it was my rules. I limited viewing time on the parade, turned the Hallmark channel on the main TV and banned gratitude speeches to kick off dinner.

My dad wasn’t having it, though. By this point he had been very ill for years and was only getting worse. He had a hard time moving about and his speech was often slurred and hard to understand, typical of people suffering from liver disease. Regardless of his ailments, he stood up to tell everyone what he was grateful for that year: simply to be alive and to be with family. You can tell it was coming from the heart. He didn’t know how many more Thanksgivings he would have with us and wanted us to know how important these moments were to him. Dad was rushed to the hospital that night and we worried we might lose him. Luckily, we were able to spend a few more Thanksgivings together.

It’s funny how a single moment can bring a lifetime of change, making pet peeves seem so petty. In honor of my dad, we will spend Thanksgiving every year letting each other know what makes us most grateful. I’ll prance around the kitchen stressing over whether the food will turn out perfectly. We will watch the Thanksgiving parade because my roommate loves it, and I’ll razz her about it a little. I’ll even have football on the TV so my brother can enjoy his traditions. Most importantly, we will just be together as a family.

There is much to celebrate in these pages of Watermark. In Tampa Bay we look at Mayor Rick Kriseman’s re-election and preview the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance. Orlando news recaps the Metropolitan Business Association Pride Gala, as well as introduces you to The Glass Knife and #FiveFilms4Freedom. Our entertainment section features Fun Home at Straz and La Boheme at Opera Orlando. Watermark’s Last Page dives into the life and passion of sales director Danny Garcia.

For months now we have been working on a story that demonstrates the love within LGBTQ adoptions and fostering. Holly V. Kapherr gives you a front row seat to some of these forever families and the impact they have made on each other’s lives.

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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