Thanksgiving is a beloved national holiday for not only the copious amounts of food, cozy fires alongside the football game, and the start of the holiday season, but for the people sitting around the dinner table.

Whether your family is big or small, close-knit or distant, they are the people who will have your back no matter what. Of course all of us fight, and there are members of your family you are closer to than others, but that is what this holiday is all about. Not only being around family, but being present with your family.

Not just going through the motions or dreading that nosy uncle interrogating your career path, but really taking the time to look around the table and appreciate the faces staring back at you.

Because there aren’t many opportunities to see these people all in one place, around one table for one, special meal. As we get older, our lives become more complicated, hectic and distant. It will only become harder to see your relatives, grandparents, siblings or even parents as life becomes more chaotic.

Being a senior in college makes me wonder where I’ll be next year, and if this holiday will suddenly become more important if I’m living away from home and unable to see my family as often as I like. Also, as I get older, so do my relatives, and I’m not naïve to take for granted every opportunity I spend with them.

Life is a greater gift than any Black Friday sale. With all of the violence that has plagued the news and torn at our hearts these past few months, this holiday is another reminder that life is delicate and fragile, and no day is guaranteed. Every Thanksgiving in which we are healthy and surrounded by those we love is something to be incredibly thankful for.

I always find it wrong that stores start opening and advertising deals before Thanksgiving is even over, but whether the stores are open or not doesn’t matter. All that matters is enjoying the people around you whether you decide to go out shopping until late in the evening and or stay at home in front of the fire stretched out on the couch feeling stuffed and content.

However, while thanksgiving is a reminder of all those we love, it is also a reminder of all those we’ve lost. Each year, more and more people have to balance the joy of family coming together with the pain of losing a sibling, parent, cousin, or friend who has left a permanent absence at the dinner table. In those times of pain and weakness, family is there to stick together and remain strong.

Even though you may not see these people all the time, family is there through the thick and thin and they are truly the people who understand you and love you like no one else can. Take a moment this holiday to appreciate all the little things they've done throughout the years that have made you who you are and will continue to shape the person you become. Wherever life takes you, the people around the dinner table on Thanksgiving are the ones that make life full of love and thanks.