I wasn’t exactly an “A” student when it came to history during my school days, so some of my facts could be wrong about the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Best I can recall, a man named Columbo rented three boats — the El Nino, the Pinto and the Santa Monica — and headed toward Texas in search of the best barbecue.

He got lost because his cell phone died and Google Maps no longer worked, so he ended up in Detroit, where he purchased a Plymouth and finished his trip to Texas.

I slept through the rest of the lesson, but evidently, when he found his way to East Texas and discovered Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler and Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview, he was so thankful he lobbied President Willie Nelson to make the last Thursday in November a national holiday called Thanksgiving.

Again, don’t hold me to the details, but regardless of how it came about, this coming Thursday is the time to sit back, relax and reflect on what we are all thankful for.

I realize 2020 has been a large pile of unpleasant stuffing for the most part, but allow me to take a minute to tell you about some of things I appreciate.

Kindness: It might seem in short supply these days, but it’s still there, and if you gather (in small groups) to enjoy the holiday it’s a good idea to practice some kindness.

Don’t like three-bean casserole? Don’t eat it. Turkey is a little dry? Put some gravy on it. Two people brought the same kind of pie? It’s pie. Is that really a reason to bring up the fact if “someone” didn’t drink so much, maybe they could remember what was discussed this past Tuesday?

Books: I got a Kindle for Father’s day, and I love it. But there are certain books I still want to hold in my hands and then leave on the coffee table so folks are impressed by my obvious knowledge and love of words. My wife isn’t a fan of the “leaving them on the coffee table” part — thus the Kindle.

Newspapers: Shameless plug, but newspapers are still one of the best bargains in history. We give you local sports and news, national and world news, incredible photos, comics, puzzles and weather, and all for about the cost of a soft drink each day.

Don’t whine about having to pay to read stories online, either. You aren’t paying for news. You’re paying (a paltry amount) so the dedicated folks who sell ads, write stories, edit stories, take photos, design pages and then deliver the newspaper to your door or your computer 365 days a year can pay their bills and maybe even support your business.

East Texas: The family members and friends I left behind in East Tennessee when I moved to Texas 35 years ago always want to know why I stayed here.

The weather is crazy. Summer is so hot and sticky, it feels like we live inside someone’s mouth. Fall lasts three days. Winter can go from 77 degrees in the afternoon to 17 degrees at night. Spring is beautiful, but only on the days we’re not covered in pollen or dodging Category 9 Sharknados.

Being a sports writer, I rave about the great high school and college sports, of course, but it always comes back to the people here.

Kilgore adopted me and the folks in Longview and the surrounding towns I lovingly call my “coverage area” — that’s newspaper lingo — have tolerated me for more than three decades. Some of y’all even like me.

So, when I give thanks this Thursday for all of my blessings, know that you are one of the things I plan to mention to the man upstairs.

Right after I thank him for football and barbecue.

— Jack Stallard is sports editor of the News-Journal. Email: jstallard@news-journal.com; follow on Twitter @lnjsports

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