The reflection this year marked four years of Friendsgivings. Each year I strive to try a different focus and add new topics or lessons for us to think about and learn from, as stepping stones to build up! Also, this year would be different because we included a close friend of ours in Houston, Texas. While he was not physically in the room with the 20 plus of us, he was there in spirit, listening via FaceTime. Then, we began.

"Each year I try to put together a reflection for us that builds upon the previous year, and as many of us know, we've talked about friendship, the act of giving, family, thankfulness, and why each of these has a relative meaning to this gathering. This year would be different from those, as there is no 'written speech' while a few of you tend to ask me, leading up to this moment. The 'speech' is right here, in this brain – even rehearsed a few times in recordings.

I have wanted to do this particular item since we started these at the Megans' apartment, and always failed to plan and coordinate for it to happen. Today that changes. We have someone waiting for us, and now we are going to FaceTime to get a hold of that person!

'Hello there! How are you? Can you hear us?'

'Yes, sir!'

'Good. Steve, say hello.'

'Everybody, say hi to Steve!'

'Mike, no one can see Steve – you have the camera pointed to the ceiling, you doofus.'

'Sorry, let me fix that (everyone is waving, three full tables).'

Now, Steve is with us, at this moment. What he doesn't know is that he is a focal point to what we talk about today, which I promise will not take long – many of you are hungry. As many of you know, Steve took a chance and moved his entire life to Houston, Texas. While not knowing if he would like it or be successful; he took a serious chance. When I first visited him a few years ago, we had a very deep conversation one of the nights about leaving home. I remembered asking him, 'so, do you miss home? What is it like to be here and not know a whole lot of anyone or anything? Is it hard being away from family?'

Steve may not remember his answer, but once I share with all of you what he said – I know he will remember it immediately. At that moment, after I asked my question, Steve responded, 'I don't miss the physical places, Westchester or Chicago necessarily, but I miss the people. Moreover, if I could take those people with me here, then everything would be right. Everything would be perfect.'

There I was, much taken back, and frankly, off guard from what he shared. In addition, that statement says a lot about the people who are in this room, today.

Now – I want to preface this and say that if you do not want to participate in this final piece, you do not have to participate! All I ask is that you be here, at this moment.

For the rest of you, please close your eyes. Focus on your breathing for a couple of seconds. Let go of any thoughts or ideas in your mind, silence them. Let this rooms silence soothe and relax you.

I am going to share a series of prompts with you, which do not require any answering aloud. However, make sure to think about them, and what comes to mind is important! First, think of a dark, a cold, troubling, scary, sad, or challenging time in your life. You probably wanted to extract yourself from the world and not have anyone bother you. I am sure people reached out and talked, and comforted you. How did that make you feel? How did they support you?

Now, let us look at the flip side of the coin. Think of a happy, powerful, strong, uplifting, or joyful memory in your life. I am sure there are many, and think of as many as you would like! Who were the people with you or around you to share that point of time? What was their presence like in that moment? How did it make you feel?

It is very likely that either of your memories, good or bad, or both, included someone in this room here. It could be the person sitting next to you, across from you, back at home, a mother, a father, an uncle, an aunt, brother or sister – anyone.

Today, we all decided to come together. We could be doing anything today, but we committed our weekend schedule to be together to celebrate friendship. While life continues to move forward, it's crucial to take time to remember moments. Regardless of how big or small, those moments are an incredible foundation for our family, which continues to grow out. Remember the little moments, because those are the building blocks, the bricks, to the home we built call family – they are the ones that matter most – they provide shelter and love. Thank you for deciding to come together today."