The holidays always make me a bit nostalgic and reminiscent. 

Having lived so far from my family for such a long time now, it’s difficult to be with them for every holiday. I have such amazing memories of going to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, even if there was a horde of aunts, uncles, cousins and spouses who made my anxiety take an uptick. I loved visiting my grandma and grandpa, who we call King, on my dad’s side at Christmastime as my grandma had a tree in practically every room and Santa’s boots by the fireplace.

In more recent years, I fondly remember watching “The Wizard of Oz” snuggled up with my niece in her Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve then seeing her face light up as she opened Santa’s presents the next morning.

I’m a big fan of holidays in general. I love birthdays and the fireworks on Fourth of July. I even enjoy smaller holidays like Groundhog Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

But something about this time of year does make me a little sad but in a happy way, if that makes sense. And it’s even more so this year as I had a death in my family as my grandmother died the day before Thanksgiving.

I’ve been through a gamut of emotions these past few days. I’m sad for the loss of my grandma. I’m happy my dad got a few last days with her. I’m glad she got to meet my dad’s dog, Duke, a little Chihuahua who lives with him in Mexico. I’m angry she didn’t get to put up her Christmas tree in every room this year. I’m regretful I didn’t go home a few days earlier to see her in her final days. I’m blessed to finally have faith to know she’s not really gone; she’s just in a better place. 

But mostly, honestly, I’m just sad.

I got a chance to make some new Thanksgiving memories this week with my boyfriend’s family, and I’m thankful to know they’ve taken me in as their own. Then as we were on the way home, the clouds parted ever so slightly and that perfect moment of light shined down on the trees as we drove by. I snapped a photo and sent my dad a text with the simple message, “Grandma says hi.” He said it was perfect, just what he needed at that time.

And I started to think, “What would Grandma want me to do?” I know she wouldn’t want me to be sad. She just wasn’t that woman. She was always laughing, excited over a prank she had played or some chocolate cake she was eating. And she was also full of wisdom. 

I didn’t know her as well as I wished I had, especially now, but I knew she was a woman of great faith and I knew she was a woman who loved fully and completely. 

So I began to try to remember the things I am grateful for, especially this time of year. All the typical things came to mind: Friends, family, my boyfriend, my dogs, having a career and health and relatively good fortune. I’m thankful I’m going home today and I’ll get to be a shoulder for my dad if he needs to cry and I’ll get to squeeze my niece and nephew and I’ll get to laugh with my brother. I’m thankful I have a family who supports each other in times like this, and I’m thankful I spent a few minutes on Thanksgiving telling stories about my grandmother, laughing just like she would.

Now I know this is supposed to be a sports column, so I’ll leave you with this. 

Oddly enough, I’m thankful I got to cover Reeltown’s football game Friday night. As I’m writing this column, I don’t know if the Rebels will win or lose, but I do know no matter how tough my life gets or how many hours I’ve worked in a day or how many parents have griped with me that week, I find solace on that football field. If only for a couple hours, everything else seems to slip away. I concentrate on those kids who are battling for something they love and I give them everything I have, but they give me so much more in return.

I’m thankful I found a career that gives me joy, and I know my grandma would want nothing less. Just like my grandmother has found her sanctuary up there among the clouds and the perfect light, I have found mine down here and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful. 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Outlook.