I’ve been thinking all month about this letter. There is much to be thankful for, much gratitude in my heart. I could list the usual suspects (and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way): family, friends, coffee and chocolate. I could wax poetic about the people who have shown up for me this year, personally and professionally, and the ways in which we all sometimes fail to appreciate or even see the beauty around us. 

It’s all true.

But right now, as I sit at my desk, the sky outside my window a dove gray, I am most grateful for stories. As I’ve spent 2019 as the editor of OutreachNC Magazine, I’ve heard many stories. I’ve sat with people from all over these counties, in their home, in their offices, in coffee shops and on park benches. I’ve heard about heartache, loss, love and hope. I’ve heard stories they’ve never before shared and stories they’ve told, and retold a hundred times, and each time, it’s a new story altogether. 

I’m so grateful for each story, for each person’s willingness to sit with me or with any of our writers, to allow a photographer to take a picture, to put a name with a face, to give me the details of a moment in their life, cracking open a window to let in the air of their world. I am truly grateful, and as I reflect on this year, I consider how much I’ve learned in all of these moments. When I add up all the conversations, I’m humbled and nothing short of awestruck by what we endure and what we’re capable of achieving and overcoming as human beings, particularly when we come together as a community, even if it’s simply a community of two. 

This month, we hear the story of a boy who finds his place with Gary Taylor Dance (p. 40), discover the path to positive thinking (p. 44) and explore how families are impacted by the opioid epidemic in our continued coverage of the crisis (p. 48). 

We are also excited to announce and print our First Place Winner of our Assignment OutreachNC: Interview a Veteran (p. 34). We had so many well-written, fascinating, creative interviews it was downright painful to choose. What a lovely problem to have! 

 When I think of stories, I’m often reminded of C.S. Lewis’ famous words: 

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” 

Thank you all for giving us a glimpse into your worlds.