Like Mary wrote, many of us are unable to travel for the holidays. Be it for either economic or schedule reasons, this is the time when our extended Coastie families become our immediate family around the dinner table.
That's not to say that they replace our beloved blood relatives, but the smiles, laughs, and tongue-in-cheek jokes are reminiscent of Aunt Josie's and Uncle Joe's jabs from across the dinner table--well, at least for me.
Here on the Rock, a small group of us put together a small progressive potluck dinner. For each course-- appetizers, main meal, desserts, and after dinner drinks-- we assigned a host and each of us brought a plate to each house, each course. With our varied backgrounds, we attempted to introduce each other to our family's traditions, some of which reflected our geographic homes: meat stuffing with Portuguese sausage, southern style green bean casserole, etc.
At each home, surrounded by food and friendly faces, our "family" gave thanks for the simple joys within our lives. Personally, as we trekked across the ice-laced gravel roads through our neighborhood and cul de sac, I breathed fresh air and in my own personal way, reflected upon how great my life is and gave thanks for my family's health, my amazing marriage, our new home, and for all those simple pleasures I take for granted. Further, I gave thanks for this new family of mine: the ones who helped me endure a difficult, long patrol and continuously made me smile as I explored our new Alaskan home.
Above all, I am thankful for this special time in my life. As Brad loves to boast: they pay us to live here. We are so lucky.