There are a few seats at the table that will be most blessedly full this Thanksgiving, and for those I am extremely grateful.

First among those is my father’s. We didn’t really expect him to be here for another holiday, much less his youngest daughter’s wedding, and it’s kind of a miracle. For that, I am profoundly grateful.

At the opposite end of the table from him will be my little brother, who for the first time in three years isn’t just home  for the holidays, but here for good. Another blessedly full seat.

Next to him will be my mother, pillar of strength and the best example I’ve ever seen of how to be an outstanding wife and mother. Seeing her non-stop smile at my wedding was my favorite gift of all.

And, last but not least, right by my side will be sitting the newest addition to the table: my husband, a brilliant, sweet man, one who understands my foibles and weaknesses and loves me all the more for them. Again, much more than I ever expected to be giving thanks for.

Today I give thanks for all of these people in my life, but also for the fact that I have found the strength to embrace and enjoy them to the fullest extent. This year, I finally found peace, or rather accepted the peace that I had all along. I accepted my role as Santa Cruzian and family person, and even despite our losses and setbacks this year, I have never been happier.

Happy Thanksgiving.