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26 November 2015

The Pilgrims didn't wring their hands over whether to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family or their friends. The starched collars sat down together with the loincloths, as any elementary school kid can tell you. It was the start of one big happy blockbuster reality telenovela.

Skip a few hundred years and insert the marvels of technology. We can fly thousands of miles in a few hours to be home. We can again afford to drive a few hundred. We can even be in the room even when we're not in the room with Skype and FaceTime.

We can once again be together.

There is dread in this. And joy. Blood and tears. White meat, dark meat. Yams and sweet potatoes. Pumpkin and pecan pies. Both.

Fortunately it always ends the same way. Belts loosened and eyes drooping, everyone gets drowsy and falls harmlessly asleep. Some blame the turkey, others the football, but it's inevitable.

And yet, you know, one year is never like the next.

We thought we would always have to watch the Cowboys and Redskins scrimmage everything Thanksgiving when we were a child. We would roll our eyes as Gramps would again get out of his arm chair to reorient the rabbit-ear antenna to get rid of the ghosts or fiddle with the controls on the new TV set to adjust the color.

But it isn't polite to call the Washington team by that name any more, no one has seen a ghost on their TV screen in years and Gramps has a box seat now.

The years pass, life goes on.

And every year we miss more and more people who once sat at the table with us. Unfathomable to think we will ourselves be missed one day. A candle lit to remember us.

The photo accompanying this story was shot in 2012 at the home of friends who have welcomed us and our family for Thanksgiving for many years. This was the centerpiece that year. Three candles in glass vessels resting in an iron tree.

We shot it looking through the dining room entrance to the kitchen. Working at the stove is Eric, who became an Ironman this year, achieving a life-long dream.

When he wrote to us about his plan to run in the triathlon, he said:

Ever since I was little I can remember seeing the world championship in Kona on TV. I was captivated by the spirit of the event and all of the amazing and heartwarming stories they would share about the participants. To me an Ironman is the epitome of the human spirit. It personifies determination and perseverance. It makes me believe that anything we set our minds to we can achieve. That deep down we all possess the incredible power to overcome any obstacle.

Success, however, does not come easily and certainly not to most of us. But we find ourselves welcome among friends and family today anyway. Loved, even, as our flame burns down, still giving off a little light.

As Eric put it after he had achieved his dream:

You start out doing something crazy like this to prove something to yourself but in the end you do it for the people you love because they stand with you through it all, they pick you up when you fall. They become your strength.

And that, friends, is what we're thankful for today. You.

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