by Wes Cummings

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year for a few reasons – the good food, seeing family, and no school. In my 16 years on this beautiful Earth I have developed a life for which I can be nothing but thankful. I have been blessed with the greatest family and friends a person could ask for. I have created a bond with so many people over the course of my life that make all my experiences worth it.

In my earlier years when Thanksgiving rolled around, everyone preached  to me to be thankful. I listened, but I never really quite understood the concept of being sincerely appreciative. It wasn’t until a very fateful day last July where I truly learned what being thankful truly meant.

At this point in time I was enjoying a family vacation in Wisconsin Dells area. This was the first time I had ever been to Wisconsin, which surprised me since Wisconsin and Iowa are neighbors. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day in the Wisconsin Dells. The sun was out, people were smiling, and the United States of America was celebrating its 240th birthday. The busy street where I stood was like a river of red, white and blue. It blew my mind how so many people could fit on one street.

Because this was my first time in Wisconsin, I had never actually tried Wisconsin’s “famous” cheese. I really wanted to see if the Badger State could put their money where  their mouth was, so I visited a tiny restaurant on the street called Mac’s. This place’s whole menu was dedicated to their so-called mouth-watering mac and cheese. As soon as I stepped in the door I was appalled by the horrid stench, but apparently some cheeses are supposed to stink. When my family and I found a seat, we placed our orders. I asked for the simplest dish on the menu, “Original Mac.”

When the sizzling dish was placed in front of me, I swear tears came to my eyes. The perfectly-shaped macaroni noodles floated in a beautiful pool of creamy gold. I forked the gorgeous creation and raised it to my lips. My heart was pounding, my stomach was growling, and my mouth was watering.  When the flawless piece of art hit my tongue, fireworks exploded in my mind. Bite after bite, I consumed the delicious meal. The mac and cheese satisfied my stomach in a way that no other food could.

I raised my eyes from the dish and looked at my smiling family. I then suddenly had an epiphany. It wasn’t the mac and cheese that put the smile on my face. Instead it was my family sitting around the table. I realized I was so lucky to have these amazing people with me in this amazing life.