One of the truly unique things about my experience growing up in Alaska is that we were surrounded by family. Usually, people who move to Alaska come for work or through a military assignment and they are here alone with only their immediate family. But my father was born and raised in Anchorage. His parents came to Alaska in early 1949 with a friend who invited them along for a visit. And they stayed. They raised their family here. And after my dad finished dental school and was given the opportunity to go home, he jumped at the chance. And so I spent my youth with the luxury of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that lived close by.
Tonight we had my grandparents over for a picnic dinner over the backyard fire pit. My grandparents are amazing people, truly of the greatest generation of hard workers that don't know how to complain and are thankful for their blessings. They tell the best stories about my dad from his youth and about their experiences in the wilds of early-settlement Anchorage. My grandpa worked as a carpenter and helped build the courthouse in downtown Anchorage. They helped celebrate Alaska's statehood in 1958. And I love that I get to share them now with my children.
So tonight we made hot dogs, s'mores, and laughed until our sides hurt. One of the best parts of being home is being surrounded by the people I love the most.