By Justin A. Hinkley
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This year, I'm thankful for Elvis Presley....

A couple weeks or so ago, I completed the annual dig through my poorly organized CDs to find my Christmas albums, especially Elvis Presley's "Christmas
Peace," Disc 1.

Next to that disc were other Elvis albums I hadn't listened to in many weeks, so I pulled them out, too. I put them in my car and as the King's soft baritone
rolled over me, I realized that the man has been a thread through many of my happiest memories.

I put in "2nd to None," the 2003 best-of compilation from Paul Oakenfeld, clicked it over to "Love Me," and went from song to song like photos in a family

To me, Elvis is Mom teaching my brother and I how to sing "Suspicious Minds," for some reason. That's not really a kid kind of song, but I think it was the
only one she knew. We sang it full of fervor, until she was no longer a fan.

Elvis is my dad crooning a tear-jerking version of "In the Ghetto" in a North Carolina karaoke bar. He uses the stage name "Charismo." It made me happy to
watch him there, the simple-happiest I'd ever seen him.

I can't hear "Kentucky Rain" without thinking of my hapless stepdad. We drove from Battle Creek to Houston one year, he and I in the truck hauling the
trailer and Mom and everyone else driving the sedan. I made him listen to that song over and over again - as we drove through Kentucky. I also subjected
him to "Promised Land," "Jailhouse Rock" and the Elvis vs. JXL version of "A Little Less Conversation."

That trip made me think of an earlier trip to Cleveland, to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where I recorded in their karaoke booths a god-awful version of "Are
You Lonesome Tonight?"

I thought of that recording while watching my best friend's bride-to-be descend the stairs on a bluff-side beach house in South Haven, all dressed in white
and smiling at her future husband. "Can't Help Falling in Love." Elvis has accompanied a romantic night here or there for me, too.
This Thanksgiving, dust off an old record, hit play and let it take you on a walk through those kind of memories that make you grateful for where and what
you are. Cheers.

This week's theme: Top 5 Elvis songs
1. "If I Can Dream."
2. "Kentucky Rain."
3. "Make the World Go Away."
4. "Roustabout."
5. "Suspicious Minds."