Like a lot of other people on this list, I have a great deal to be thankful for. Professionally, I'm thankful that I've been able to write full-time and keep doing what I love with the support of my family. But there was a much earlier sign of support that led me to where I am today.
I was born into a sports family. My father played football for a local college called Carson-Newman, and later for the Air Force when he was stationed in Germany. Still later, he was a high school football coach for almost twenty years. My uncle played football for the University of Tennessee. My grandfather was a high school football referee. Even my aunt was a football cheerleader. When I was born, the assumption in my family was that I would grow up to be a football player.
Well, everyone assumed that except my father. While most football coaches drag their sons out to play catch as soon as they can walk, my father never pushed me into sports. Which turned out to be a good call--I'm about the most uncoordinated guy you'll ever meet. I have no talent whatsoever for sports. What I immediately took to was writing, and my father told me to go for it. I was never a disappointment to him, never a "failure" for not following in the footsteps of my football family.
I remember one family reunion in particular when some second-cousin once-removed came up and tousled my hair and said, "So this is the little quarterback!" He pinched my little brother's cheek and said, "And here's the little running back!" My father smiled and said, "Actually, Alan likes to write stories, and John is a musician." Our relative forced a smile and tried to say something sympathetic, then wandered away.
My father let me choose my own path, and for that I have always been extraordinarily thankful.