As I write this column, Marley is napping on a pillow at my feet, wrapped in a wiener-dog-themed blanket and snoring loud enough to wake the neighbors.
My best little companion, who has undergone two major surgeries over the past couple of months, continues to inspire and amaze me as she endures the worst, and always manages to provide the best.
I don’t know what I would do without her and a family that has endured some roller-coaster-ride ups and downs, but still manages – much like Marley – to survive and provide the best.
The only reason I am able to get up every day and face a world that seems to grow madder with every waking minute is because of the love of my family.
For some reason, which I will never totally understand, my wife Stacy has been by my side the past 34 years. I married way out of my league and she deserves so much better than I can often provide, but we have managed to form a union that allows us to shut out the craziness surrounding our lives and focus on the things that are really important.
My two sons, Zach and Sean, have enjoyed a special 2016.
Zach is part of the Reeds American Table restaurant family and is becoming a mover and shaker in the St. Louis restaurant scene.
Sean is always going to be the little kid I used to carry piggyback from his bed to the breakfast table. He is loving and embracing life in a way I never thought possible.
I am so proud and thankful for each of them.
My amazing 84-year-old mom, Joyce, who still loves Elton John music and talking about her Missouri Mavericks, is a daily inspiration.
I want to thank Examiner publisher Julie Moreno for making my home away from home for the past 32 years, The Examiner, a vibrant and important part of our community. She is a voice in our community, a presence that has made reading your hometown paper cool again.
And on a personal note, executive editor Sheila Davis – who I attended Northwest Missouri State University with a few years back – and managing editor/sports editor Karl Zinke are two friends and peers I respect, admire and trust.
I work with a great group of high school coaches and administrators.
Last week, I had total access to the Blue Springs football team as it prepared for a state championship contest, and while the Wildcats lost, coach Kelly Donohoe was the personification of class as we walked off the field together and talked about life and the hard knocks we always seem to find a way to come back from.
Hometown teams like the Missouri Mavericks and Kansas City Comets have that feel-good atmosphere as they treat their fans in much the same fashion they might receive at a prep game. Fans don’t come to the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena to see professional hockey and soccer teams, they come to see “their boys,” and that is a trait I hope lasts forever.
I’m thankful for a newfound faith that was AWOL for a while, as I searched for some answers to some very difficult questions.
Without faith, the world is terrifying. And I am not about to climb on a soap box – does that term make me seem old? – and preach about my beliefs, but without a strong moral compass I don’t know what direction I might be heading.
Friends – where would be without friends, and I am thankful for the close friends who have always been there for me. They know when to get in touch, and more importantly, to wait for me to reach out to them.
I’m thankful to the doctors that helped me tackle a recent health scare, Dr. Curt Cavanaugh and Dr. Patricia Perkins, two compassionate veterinarians who have allowed Marley to be a part of our lives the past 10 years and the members of our Wednesday Night Small Group, who are special for all the right reasons.
We have a reality star as our president-elect and we live in a country where cops are the bad guys and violent protesters are made out to be heroes.
Young men and women are dying in a war I don’t understand and more people seem to care about the Kardashians than they do their nextdoor neighbors.
What a world, but it’s my world and I’m going to find a way to embrace it. So, perhaps I’m most thankful for my faith, because I cling to it like a drowning man in a turbulent sea.
And I’m thankful to our readers who have put up with me the past 34 years. You will always have a special place in my heart.
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC