As I was reading over a few very entertaining responses in our “Kids Give Thanks” section found in today’s paper, it got me thinking.

What am I thankful for?

Sitting at home holding my son on the eve of my 35th birthday over the weekend, I pondered how my life has changed. Five years ago, I would have been out toasting a celebratory shot — or two, or three — with some buddies. Now, I’m content grabbing a beer and dinner with my wife, Lindsey, while being home by 8 p.m.

Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoy a good time with the boys when I’m back home. It’s just this new chapter of the journey we have embarked on has certainly brought about its fair share of changes.

In the last two years, we tied the knot, each started new jobs, moved to a new city and had our first child. Oh, and we did all that during a pandemic which pretty much flipped “routines” upside down.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it. And it brings me to what I’m thankful for ahead of Thursday’s feast.

I’m thankful for my wife, who has been by my side every step of the way. Lindsey supported our decision to call DuBois home, understanding the opportunity for me to take the next step in my career. She made the necessary adjustments, finding a job on the fly while accepting the three-plus hour distance suddenly between our families. Then, over the last 11 months or so, I watched her glow throughout pregnancy and now as a first-time mother. She is my rock. And saying thanks doesn’t quite cover it.

I’m thankful for the privilege to be the editor of The Courier Express, believing timing is everything and things do indeed happen for a reason. The situation was rocky at my previous newspaper after being swallowed up by a big corporation. It had lost its way, no longer focused on local content and trying to offset significant staff cuts with regional pieces publishing in multiple papers. I was no longer proud to put my name on the product, and then my phone rang regarding an opening in DuBois. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m thankful for my coworkers, who have embraced my vision since arriving here. My philosophy is to push people while playing to their strengths. I also think it’s important to create a team environment, all working together for the common good of the paper. We have the talent and dedication to continue making strides. I look forward to doing just that.

I’m thankful for my immediate and extended family, all of whom have helped in their own ways. From close friends I consider brothers (I’m an only child), to aunts, uncles and cousins — they’ve each played a role. My in-laws have also been tremendous, doing whatever we’ve asked as new parents needing a hand or advice. And then there are my parents, who continue to encourage me to be a better man while providing an example of what a long-lasting marriage looks like. They are the reason behind so much of my story, and will forever be my biggest role models.

And, although I love my wife, parents, friends and job, this year I’m most thankful for my son. Cooper Joseph arrived on Sept. 5, and ever since, my outlook on what’s really important went through quite the transformation. The trivial things simply don’t matter anymore. Yes, I am still a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Now, when they lose, it just doesn’t sting quite as bad.

When I look at Cooper, I fill with a sense of pride, knowing that I am now that familiar role model who he will admire. It’s my responsibility to live up to such a mighty task, something that I do not take lightly. He is our No. 1 priority, and the new driving force of this book called life. As he grows each day, so too does our bond.

For that, I am thankful.

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Ben Destefan is the editor of The Courier Express. He can be reached at:

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