Today, November 26, 2015………..Thanksgiving! That day when family and friends gather for the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, pies or whatever your family traditions may be. For me the holidays are difficult. I miss the years when my family was closer, the kids were young and we were all able to gather for family holidays. But as life goes children grow up, loved ones pass on and family dynamics change. During the changes of life one hopes their family will stay together but sometimes it just doesn’t. So it happened that this year I was going to be by myself babysitting my youngest son’s dog (Hank) in Portland. My son, Bryce and his girlfriend, Alyse had made plans quite sometime back to fly to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Bryce was going to leave Hank with a friend to care for him, but when I found myself “retired” from my job I told my son that I would come and take care of Hank so they did not have to worry about him. But life has a way of taking you by surprise and reminding you of the awesome, caring people still out there in this big world of ours. The day before Bryce and Alyse were to leave Alyse had a couple of her work friends (Laura and Corrine) over at the house that I had the opportunity to meet. Now take note that it was a brief opportunity, but the next day after I dropped Bryce and Alyse off at the airport I received a text from Bryce that I was invited to Corrine’s house for Thanksgiving. I was surprised that with such a brief meeting that this young lady did not want me spending Thanksgiving alone, but that I was welcome to come and spend it with her and her family. I accepted the invite as a challenge to myself that this was the beginning of my new life adventure I was moving towards, the chance to do something different, step outside the comfort zone and meet new people and make new friends. I arrived at Corrine’s house with several family members already there – her parents, her parent’s longtime friends, her sister with her husband and children. I was welcomed with open arms, hugs and smiles and introductions to who I was and how did I fit into this picture ( Bryce’s mom who is the boyfriend of Alyse who is Corrine’s friend and co-worker). Within the hour more family members arrived with husbands, wives, children and a few more friends. In total, we had a house full of 21 people. What an awesome time I had visiting, sharing my stories, hearing their stories, watching the family dynamics of love for family and friends. Lots of good food….turkey, stuffing, gravy, Mexican dishes, salad, olives, pie, cake and several things I can not remember the names of. In the end, I made new friends and shared phone numbers and email with Corrine’s Mom – she and I hit it off and she was excited about my new adventure. She wants to follow my journey and hopes that she and her husband will be able to travel more this next year as well. So on this Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for my family that I love very much and I am thankful for new friends and a caring, compassionate young woman who reached out her heart and a hand to welcome someone new into her family and world. May the world continue to be a better place and that we all look beyond ourselves and be open and aware of others who may need a hug and a welcome embrace.