The door just closed on our last guest.

I’m writing this on the Friday after Thanksgiving and our home suddenly and abruptly, has become eerily quiet. Hours before, it was full of laughter, music and life. Now, the silence is deafening.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It is the only time when my entire family assembles in our home to give thanks and celebrate together as family. The excitement leading up to the holiday begins months in advance and the moment it is over, I can only describe as empty ... hollow ... as if it never really happened.

I walk through the house and I’m reminded it did happen. The child’s sock, laying on the floor next to the fireplace. The gray rock soaking in a bowl of white vinegar as part of my grandson’s science experiment. Leftover turkey in the refrigerator and empty pizza boxes in the garbage.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is always a let-down. The emotional high of being with family has dissipated and the realization that there is now fifty-two weeks until our next get-together is tough to accept.

We want to see each other more but are spread from east coast to west, and from the gulf shores to Chicago. Distance, schedules, school, work ... it’s makes seeing family and loved ones difficult, but we all commit each year that no matter what is going on in our lives, we’ll gather on Thanksgiving.

I’m at the age where I’ve lost friends and family. Never expected, but when you have life, eventually there will be death. I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’ll never leave things unsaid. I tell everyone how much I love them. I hug, kiss, make eye contact and smile.

Even though my wife, sisters and brothers-in-law are adults with children, on Thanksgiving, we become children again. We coordinate pajamas, so everyone who assembles in our home for few days of festivities are all dressed in the same pj’s at night and take a group picture while sitting on our staircase. This year we had a country Karaoke night even though not a one of us could carry a tune. We laughed until our sides hurt. We ate until we thought we’d burst. We told stories and spent time in a circle before our Thanksgiving meal and openly talked about our year and all we are thankful for. Like any large family, we have health challenges, career problems, financial woes and all ... but our focus at this moment is on the multitude of blessings ... and we have many.

I’m Thankful for my wife of forty-four years, my three grown children, my son-in-law, nieces and nephews, my sisters and their husbands and their children and grandchildren. I am thankful I have a career and good work to do. I am a blessed man.

I’m also thankful for my relationship with you. I love writing to you each week and I equally love hearing back from you via Email and the occasional letter in the mail. I do my best to answer every correspondence. I am always delighted to hear from you.

This column has mushroomed in popularity, which I believe proves readers want more positive, uplifting and encouraging content in the newspaper. I think newspapers often suffer from a “kill the messenger syndrome” by focusing and printing the negative news, but not this newspaper. This publication understands the value in positive content. I’m grateful for this and I work hard to bring you every week. My focus is to bring an optimistic balance to the flurry of negativity. I’m so grateful to you for coming back each week. Thank you.

So, Thanksgiving 2019 has passed and 2020 is already in the planning stages. Christmas is coming and a New Year will be upon us before we know it. This is my forty-ninth column of the year and somewhere around one-hundred and seventy-five total. Where does the time go?

Happy belated Thanksgiving.

Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com.