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Thanksgiving is about taking time out to be thankful for the good things in our lives. The best way to celebrate this very American holiday is to sit down with family and friends, and then stuff your face until you can barely move.

As I look around the table on Thursday, I’m going to remind myself how lucky we are that Jimmy’s appendix didn’t rupture in September, that Tommy has finally stopped walking in his sleep and that Ronnie’s temper tantrums are down to two a week.

I will look back at the summer we shared with my 19-year-old niece, Katy. Having her stay in our home gave me the opportunity to really get to know her. I will never forget going to her art show or riding down I-95 in her convertible with the top down.

On the day itself, if Glory hasn’t managed to sneak the butter dish off the table and lick it clean, I will definitely count my blessings.

Depending on how many leftovers she manages to devour, I might just make it through the weekend without any boo-boos on my newly cleaned carpets.

I hope the guests seated around our table this Thanksgiving will find my cooking appetizing, even the gravy.

Like last year, I am counting on everyone to be good sports about the Southern tradition I follow in which “dressing” is served as a side dish instead of being cooked inside the bird and referred to as “stuffing.”

I can serve two types of potatoes and two types of cranberry sauce (bumpy and smooth), but it pains me to consider taking good Southern dressing and turning it into Yankee stuffing.

For the second year in a row, there will be six adults and seven children celebrating Thanksgiving in our home. Six of the children happen to be boys.

When my wild sons get together with their cousins from Pittsburgh, the usual chaos in our home explodes into nonstop mayhem.

Even Glory gets hyper from all the noise and running about, so she joins in by chasing the kids around and barking throughout the visit.

That makes it hard for the men to hear every grunt and whistle in the nonstop football games being televised, so they keep the volume on our TV turned loud enough for you overseas readers to catch the score.

After the leftovers have been put away and we have all had a good night’s rest, my favorite part of the weekend will arrive. That’s when it is time to take another one of my nieces, 12-year- old Nicole, shopping.

For at least one day, I get to spend time in my favorite stores with someone else who shops in the juniors’ section. She doesn’t get bored when I spend more than half an hour checking out the latest designer handbags or make comments such as, “Why do you need another one when you already have so many?”

The only downside to having my lovely niece over for the weekend is the fact that my sons tease her mercilessly. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s the only girl in the house, outnumbered by six boys, or because I dote on her so much.

It is probably a combination of both. Last year, the boys put itching powder in Nicole’s suitcase.

Whatever happens, I refuse to be anything but thankful this Turkey Day … for my crazy life and all the wonderful people in it.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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