When I e-mailed my editors earlier this week to inform them my weekly column would be about Thanksgiving, I made sure to clarify my awareness of the need to tiptoe the precarious line between adequate sentimentality and vomit-inducing sentimentality. And, when considering the motive driving me to opine on the significance of a holiday, I found myself second-guessing. After some deep soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that my ode to Turkey Day is, in fact, based in something deeper than my eagerness to be done with the 30 pages of papers I have due in various classes before next Thursday.

Everybody seems to pay some sort of verbal homage to the importance and sanctity of Thanksgiving. I have clear memories of nodding along with my dad, years ago, when he would enumerate the qualities that made this holiday such a special one.

Dad: "It's the only holiday left unspoiled by commercialism."

Me: "Right."

Dad: "The entire purpose of the day is to pause and appreciate life."

Me: "Yup."

Dad: "The only thing that matters on Thanksgiving is realizing how much you value your family and friends."

Me: "I know — and that's why we love it so much."

Really though, as I nodded along, I was always daydreaming about the material excesses that were soon to come of my family's mostly secular Christmas celebration, now that the ensuing run-up to that all-important holiday had been signaled by the arrival of this less-than-notable one.

Certainly, the benefits and festivities of Thanksgiving are worth looking forward to, but the holiday draws little value from these alone. Indeed, I love having four days of vacation during one of the year's most hectic periods. I love watching the Lions lose their annual Thanksgiving game. I love guilt-free gluttony, and I love Bond marathons on basic cable. However, when I'm honest with myself, I quickly realize that my love for these things does not stand alone (exempting, perhaps, the Bond marathons), but rather exists as a result of what they have come to symbolize.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was meaningless beyond the fact that my parents might let me have a glass of wine with dinner. To be honest, I've actually never even been that big a fan of turkey — a fact that, back then, almost made the holiday something to dread rather than celebrate. Further, in those days, sitting down at a table with my family was something I considered rather objectionable, not exactly a special occasion. Time has changed much of this.

This year, I can't wait to see my older brother and accompany him and his friends to the downtown bars on Thanksgiving Eve. I can't wait to toss the football around in the backyard. And I can't wait to sit around and join in as my family jokingly picks each other apart for what we perceive as one another's character quirks and flaws — something that inevitably will happen.

Most of my friends will tell you I'm something of a killjoy when it comes to the topic of age. Birthdays typically find me lamenting lost time or tallying remaining days rather than celebrating the trivial date. But, like almost everyone else, my life is spent fretting over meaningless tasks and their subsequent, insignificant appraisals rather than appreciating the fact that I exist. Why can we only pay lip service to this reality — this recognition that we must better appreciate being — when we know we'll soon be dead?

I'm starting to come to the realization that I will never be able to appreciate life on a day-to-day basis. Maybe this can explain why my anticipation for Thanksgiving grows each year. Of all the days in the year, it is this Thursday in late November alone on which I can be absolutely certain I will value my existence.

Thanksgiving is not about football, relaxation or turkey; it is about taking one second to cease feeling cynical, stressed out and uncertain, and to realize that you are alive.

Rob Rossmeissl ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism and political science.