Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Not because we eat too much and zone out in front of the tube watching football, but instead because I personally believe thankfulness is one of the most affirming of human values. I love that the concept behind Thanksgiving applies to people of all religions, races, ages and nationalities. It is arguably our most universal holiday and one born of the most noble of intentions: to simply give thanks.

Personally, I’m not ashamed to share with anyone who cares to read or listen that I start each and everyday meditating on all the things for which I am grateful – good health, my family and friends, my amazing children, Brett and Amanda, my meaningful career, comfortable home, this great country of ours and especially my beautiful wife, Diane. 

As is true for everyone, there are aspects of life that could be better, no question, but when considered in the context of the abundance that’s come my way, I feel like one of the luckiest people alive and have no good reason to complain about anything. 

This year, when I consider the troubles so many people are facing as a result of that horrible storm back east, people who have lost everything — including loved ones in far too many cases — the power of gratitude becomes even more profound. And when I think of people in impoverished countries, where the want of a drink of water or a plate of food or medical care is a life and death proposition, tears are certain to fill my eyes and sometimes I feel so silly for being occasionally wrapped up in the minutia of the day to day. 

As I was thinking about writing down these thoughts this morning, it occurred to me that in the pool and spa industry, we all share much for which to be thankful. I recognize that for many, bashing our industry has become something of a popular sport, and in some ways it’s justifiable. Way beyond that hand wringing, however, there are overriding values that make all the kvetching almost meaningless. 

Consider that we are in the business of providing people with the healthiest products available on the planet. Pools, spas and other waterfeatures bring beauty, tranquility, excitement, places to gather, places to grow, places to fall in love and raise children. Whatever shortcomings we may have, and certainly no one or nothing in this earthly realm is perfect, what we do with our professional lives carries tremendous, almost incalculable value. 

Many years ago, a good friend of mine in college graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. That was back in the ’80s when the defense industry was booming in Southern California, and like many gear heads of the day, he considered going to work designing weapons of war, a noble endeavor no doubt. But something about that just didn’t feel right to him and instead he took a job as a quality control manager for a major toy manufacturer, a career he enjoys to this day. 

Years later he told me that he was thankful every day that he made that decision simply because instead of creating systems designed to kill people, he was in the business of creating safe products that make children happy and in many cases, help them learn.  

I feel the same exact way about covering the pool and spa industry. Every day of my working life I have the privilege of writing about an industry that makes people of all ages, shapes and sizes happy and healthy. When I started out as a young professional scribbler some 27 years ago, I didn’t anticipate devoting the vast majority of my work to the subject of water, but looking back and casting my gaze forward, I couldn’t be happier about the way things have worked out. 

Sure, we’ve been through tough times in recent years due to the recession and we may have similar challenges just up the road and around the corner. Yet, I can’t help but believe the struggles we share convey a type of common nobility and grace upon those who carry on each day knowing that what we do is magnificently worthwhile. 

With all of that in mind, come this Thanksgiving, and every other day of the year, this lad is most grateful, most profoundly grateful, indeed. 

Thank you and God bless!