It’s a Wednesday night and I just finished a delicious cheese steak and chicken, bacon and honey mustard pizza from a local pizzeria.

I figured it was worth a stop on my icy drive home from work where only hours earlier my boss Chris Imperiale and Conor Foley put the finishing touches on what will certainly be an impressive Thanksgiving Day All-Region Spectacular Section.

cloudyWhile relaxing with my daughters, Meghan and Grace, watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (I know not a holiday tradition, but the overeating in the story line is a reflection on my own holiday tradition), I decided this would be a great time to offer my glad tidings and well wishes to everyone out there.

This time of the year always takes me back to my first days with The Times-Tribune. I joined the sports department as a clerk in 1997 on Black Friday. I was intimidated and my palms were sweating as I embarked on what I hoped would be a career in covering local sports. The darn phone never stopped ringing, as I recall, and it was a busy night indeed. Scotty Walsh taught me how to take a box score over the phone and had notes scribbled into almost every page of a Reporter’s Notebook — complimentary I might add!

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It was rough early on, I am not afraid to admit, It took me a year of doing the grunt work, answering the phone, taking box scores, typing in bowling results and screening Marty Myers’ calls to fully appreciate the operation and the overwhelmingly stressful job it is to put out a daily Sports Section.

And do it well.

One year later, I realized my professional goal. I became a staff writer and on my first day on the job, had three stories due on deadline! How I did it, I have no idea. My goal those days was to make everybody happy. Before becoming a staff writer, I used to tell anyone who would listen, that I could achieve that.

A great assistant sports editor told me one time that I would never make everybody happy, and the sooner I realized that, the longer I would stay in the business.

Well, it’s been 15 years of trying, and do you know what? He was right.

It doesn’t bother me as much any more. I still aim to achieve perfection, but in this world, it is impossible to make everybody happy. We work hard to make it happen and we put in long hours to tell great stories and make kids feel like stars.

How I will be judged on that is not up to me.

Still, during this holiday season, I must say that I am extremely thankful for the job that Times-Shamrock has given me. I can say without hesitation, that I do indeed love this job.

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Each day is a new challenge.

More importantly, I am thankful for the athletes and the coaches.

How lucky can one guy be? I get to interact with these kids who will impact our future. I have the unique experience of seeing them enjoy the highest of highs, the most thrilling glory of victory and I try when I can to comfort them in the disappointment of defeat.

I try to get to know them and their coaches. I admire each and every youngster’s commitment to their sport and their desire for achievement. I am privileged to get to know them and share a small part of their lives. I get to be a passenger on some of the most memorable journeys.

For those reasons, the long hours, the late nights, the weekends away from my daughters, the complaints and the praise, are all worth it.

And for that I want to Thank You all for being a friend!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN3E9Yyd1HA

So with that, I wish all of the athletes and coaches who I have covered throughout these MANY years a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING. And I ask that you take the time to give your family and friends a hug today and be as thankful as I am.

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And if you can. … save a piece of pumpkin pie for me!

You all deserve a great holiday.

ENJOY