Throughout the month of November, I want to take time to share about people or things I am grateful for over the past year. Previous entries: Jeremy BoumanPublic LibrariesFuel SaverEric CarpenterWellCare/MedicaidThat One Jimmy’s Egg MealBeth Katz & Lonnie MichaelMark RoberRunning, JK Rowling.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit”

Over seven years ago, I came home from work and smelled smoke. I went to the backyard, and there was a freshly dug fire pit. Jana had talked about having one since we first moved into our home, and then there it was. She was giddy about it. I had no idea how blessed we were about to be.

Since then, we’ve had countless fires in our backyard. We roast hot dogs, vegetables, marshmallows, and more. Jana and I relax and talk as the boys play. As the sun sets, we start telling stories to one another. The boys have heard tales from my missionary days, along with stories about The Brothers Four, the Cave Troll, and Alouiscious the Alligator.

Over the years, it doesn’t take much for us to have a fire pit night. Last December 16, the weather was unseasonably warm so we had one more fire pit for the year. It’s fun for us, but it’s also been something that has strengthened relationships with neighbors.

The boys will often play in the backyard, and neighboring backyards, with their neighbor friends. Our neighbors have been caring and gracious with our boys, and welcome the excitement and joy the boys bring to the surroundings. Neighbors will come out, and we strike up conversations with them. A few weeks ago, we had a fire pit and we had conversations with five different neighbors.

When we’ve hosted small groups in the past, the fire pit has been a great place to fellowship. Having other individuals and families over, especially those with kids, the fire pit makes it easier for all to enjoy the evening. Kids can run around and play freely, while the adults talk to one another.

This past Friday, we planned another fire pit. I picked up hot dogs and hot dog buns. Jana got firewood and kindling ready. The boys were already playing outside. We started things, and the evening progressed wonderfully. I sat there taking in the sight of our family sitting around the fire talking with one another while enjoying food. I thought of all the good memories, and the strengthening of family, friends, and neighborhood relationships because of using the fire pit. I am grateful for what the fire pit has provided.

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