As we are festively planning our holiday schedules through this magical time of year, I have found myself stopping to savor so many moments this season. Hot chocolate nights with delicious marshmallows stuck to our lips, late night family snuggles with a good movie on the couch, finding the perfect tree to decorate and the laughter from the kids while helping dig out the ornaments and string the lights. My heart overflows with gratitude for our family.

We have watched a niece blossom this year as she grows into the most adorable little toddler, as we also welcomed a new little nephew who made his beautiful entrance this Fall. All around us, we are surrounded by loved ones.

This issue seems to weave a similar theme of how family has impacted so many of these incredible people you will read about in their stories. Family shapes who we are, who we become and who we teach our children to be. Coach Damien Gary, Ms. Peggy Bryant, Bishop Frederick Williams, and so many more share their stories of where they came from that brought them to where they are today.

Perhaps the most fascinating realization of all is that family is created through more than one circumstance. Family and love is a choice, whether born into or chosen.

As we move into a new year, I hope we all remember to count our blessings, as often as we remember, for the little moments…the ones we will look back on through the years. It’s those that remain imprinted on our hearts that carry us through the seasons of life.

We are so grateful for you and the love you all pour out onto our families through readers, encouraging emails and ideas all sent our way. We hope you will join us in extending gratitude to each advertiser that is listed on page 192 which make this publication possible to the community at no charge.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and the HAPPIEST NEW YEAR full of love and memories!