By Kevin Canessa
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is already here. Maybe it’s because of the unusually warm autumn. Still, in a day or two or (depending on when you read this), we’ll be gathering with families to celebrate all that for which we are grateful and thankful.
With that in mind, I’ll use this week’s column to write about much that I am thankful for this year.
• To my mother and Mike — I am so thankful to have such a wonderful mum and step-dad in the two of you. I don’t deserve the love and kindness you show me on a daily basis. But please know — even though I don’t get to see you as much as I’d like to … I think of you both every day and give thanks.
• To my step-brother Matt — you may be in Florida — but I am so grateful that I have you to call my brother. Never had that when I was younger, but it’s better late than never.
• To Bob Pezzolla — nearly two years later, I am still most grateful that you brought me back from Florida to New Jersey. It was a life-changer, one that still affects me every single day. I couldn’t have asked for more.
• To Lisa Feorenzo — I am beyond grateful for the opportunities and challenges you give me each day — and for teaching me to be “fearless.” It’s been a game changer, one that causes me to look forward to each new day and each new challenge. I am a stronger person because of you.
• To Ron Leir — I couldn’t be more grateful to have such an incredible mentor and friend. When I think back to 1994, when I first met you in the newsroom of that other newspaper, I never could have imagined I’d one day be able to call you my friend, let alone my dear friend. Not much else could be more important to me.
• To Karen Zautyk — we’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Thank you for all you do in keeping me on my toes, well, every single moment of the day. And thank you for being a great friend.
• To Michelle Rybeck — I don’t know what I’d do without you on a daily basis. Thank you for always being there to lift me up (thank goodness not literally) when things go south. I truly value our friendship — and hope for better days ahead. You deserve only the best.
• To Diana Crespo — like with Michelle, when I need an ear, you’re always there to offer one. I can’t thank you for always being uplifting and positive. It’s a “beautiful” trait, one I am very grateful to experience.
• To Jim Hague — thank you for all your sports coverage, coverage that is matched today, yesterday and tomorrow by definitely no one in this industry.
• To Kim Luciano — thank you for what you are doing in town to make life better for those whose lives have gone in the wrong direction. Our town is made better because of your unending, relentless work.
• To Dom — though I am often scarce, I am so grateful to have such a wonderful friend in you and a friendship that has lasted through the test of time since September 1986.
• To Nicole and Jim Neubig — I know this not the best of times following the loss of your beloved Luca, but no matter what happens, I am so fortunate to have two amazing friends in the both of you. Your love for your dogs — and for animals in general — is inspiring. Humans could really learn from the love you give to canines. And the world would be a better place for it if more would just listen.
• To Carm and Mookie — the place is not the same anymore without you here. Not a day passes that I don’t think of both of you. Thank you for making my early days back in New Jersey some of the best days of my life.
• To Stevie and Christine Nash — may the beginning of your new life together bring you all the joy you both so deserve. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives.
• To friends John and Heather, thank you for always making me laugh and thank you for all you both do for me. I could go on here forever, but I will just say thank you.
• To Fred Gillespie, since you often joke when you pick up each week’s edition, I wanted to be sure you know that despite that (I’m kidding, really), I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for you and the work you do professionally and for the betterment of Kearny. The same goes for your group of friends, too … Kenny, Lenny, Jody and even Tom McKeon.
• To Manny and Kim Ventoso, thank you for being my friend, in the best of times and the worst of times. Though I don’t see you all that much, whenever I do, it is, without question, the best part of that day.
• To Melanie Ryan, thank you for being the pulse of this town — and for always letting me know about the things I fail to remember. When I write a story in this newspaper, chances are it’s because Melanie reminded me to do so.
There are so many others I wish I could list here, but space allows me to write only so much. Still, even if I haven’t named you, please know if you’re a part of my life, I am grateful to you. And to each and every one of you — Happy Thanksgiving. See you back here in three weeks!