Every year I am grateful for so many things at Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for my beautiful wife and our lovely daughters, our son-in-law and our miracle grandsons. And I can never leave out other members of our extended family and so many friends and acquaintances who are part of our lives, Of course, I am so thankful for our health, despite a tough year that included two different kinds of cancer, our mild cases of COVID\u00a0and some ridiculous pre-Thanksgiving \u201cplague\u201d I picked up at school last week; the comfort of our cozy home and the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving annually with my wife\u2019s wonderful and huge family in Virginia. \u00a0 But this year I decided to get off my usual thankfulness tack and think about more unusual Thanksgivings that we\u2019ve spent. Our unusual Thanksgiving \u00a0happened during COVID when we couldn\u2019t be with any family and Zoom was our only means of connection. \u201cHey,\u201d I said to my wife, \u201cwho says we have to follow our usual food traditions and make turkey? How about a prime rib dinner from Ralph and Richies in Bridgeport?\u201d My wife loved the idea and it was the most spectacular Thanksgiving dinner we\u2019ve had in a long time. \u00a0We stuffed ourselves on prime rib, mashed potatoes and home made bread and even had leftovers. And we followed up dinner with a wonderful Zoom call to my wife\u2019s family in Virginia \u2014 they had decided to get together since distance wasn\u2019t a factor. \u00a0Our daughters joined the call and it was great to catch up. It was a truly different and unusual Thanksgiving. \u00a0 Nancy, a colleague from the bookstore where I work, shared, \u201cI don\u2019t have anything too unusual\u2026 just staying home during COVID in our pod of three\u2026 eating Boston Market \u2026 missing being with the rest of my family \u2026And \u00a0I remember the weather was also very mild. We were very thankful we were all healthy."\u00a0 \u201cWe Spent a Thanksgiving in London one year,\u201d my teacher friend Eric told me. \u201cSo it was more of a Thursday. No turkey on the menu. But the chips and malt vinegar were divine.\u201d My Weight Watcher friend Bernice told me at our regular meeting this past Saturday that as a 21-year-old new mom she had prepared her first Thanksgiving turkey for her inlaws. \u201cImagine my shock,\u201d she said, \u201cwhen I realized that the slight burning smell from my turkey came from the bag of giblets and chicken livers I had left inside. The first \u2018yuch\u2019 came from my inlaws but the second one came from our daughter, which made my mistake even more painful. That was definitely a very unusual Thanksgiving.\u201d One Thanksgiving, many years before COVID, when we were more adventuresome travelers, our younger daughter Jeri invited us to Ann Arbor, Mich. for her first Thanksgiving with her soon-to-be husband Gervasio. She was making the turkey and an apple pie. We didn\u2019t want to disappoint her, but we had three dogs and one of them, our beloved cocker spaniel Truffie, could not be left with the dog-care lady who took care of our two Jack Russell terriers. So, Truffle came to Ann Arbor with us. He was a great passenger. \u00a0 What really made that Thanksgiving unusual was the mix of Jeri\u2019s Thanksgiving goodies, including her delicious apple pie, and Gervasio\u2019s amazing Mexican dishes. And Truffie\u2019s begging, of course, really made the holiday special. It was all worth the drive. \u00a0 Our cousins Scott and Becky from Raleigh are going to Tennessee this year to see her family, but Becky shared this unexpected vignette, which wasn\u2019t as unusual as surprising. \u201cOur scariest Thanksgiving was the year Scott found out he needed to have heart bypass surgery a couple of days before Thanksgiving and they sent us home to wait for a week so that all the anti-coagulants could clear his system. And of course they say don\u2019t do anything that might stress your heart during that time. I don\u2019t even remember if we had a turkey that year but fortunately his vessels stayed clear until the next week when they could go in and reroute everything.\u201d One of my closest friends, Marilen (we go way back to high school) from Saint Louis, shared an experience that was the icing on the cake for me. Actually, her unusual Thanksgiving will be happening on the Saturday after the holiday when her grandson gets married in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. \u00a0But, in addition to this special wedding, Marilen talked about the excitement of spending Thanksgiving for the first time in several years with son and daughter and their families, who live on opposite coasts, her other daughter will arrive the day after Thanksgiving. \u00a0 I was really grateful that many folks I value in my life agreed to share their unusual holiday experiences. And now we\u2019re looking forward to our regular get together in Virginia. With our younger daughter and her husband flying in from Michigan to join our older daughter and our grandsons to join us and some 20 others in my wife\u2019s family, the prospect of a nonstop eat and drink-a-thon, this Thanksgiving could definitely get very unusual. So stay tuned. \u00a0 \u00a0\u00a0 Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his \u201cIn the Suburbs\u201d appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.