Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day to be grateful and pass the time with our friends and family. Spending a day celebrating gratitude is amazing. Gratitude is an instant mood switch; it provides a positive facelift to any and every situation. Yet how many of us practice gratitude throughout the year, or even through the holiday season?

Needing to recharge and heal my feelings, I curled up one cold night and watched the new live action "Lady and the Tramp" movie with my family. "Lady and the Tramp" is among my top three Disney animated favorites and I was anxious to see how the new version compared. Much to my joy, it was better than the original. The story, altered to share Tramp’s story, was deeper, richer and much more meaningful when you could understand the heartache which drove his bravado.

Tramp has always spoken to me. I am not sure if it was his love of adventure, ability to fly by the seat of his pants, boyish, romantic charm or his ability to overcome heartache which speaks to me. But I do suspect Tramp is the root cause of my passion to rescue animals and ensure all people have a place and feel welcome.

Many of us have family or friends to spend tomorrow with. Many of us have never known a lonely holiday, one far from family. My parents and I have. We have spent countless holidays alone in a new community with no one to share the experience. While my parent always strove to make the best of a situation, I can remember the deep feeling of loneliness and the dread of holidays. While friends would excitedly talk about going to a grandparent’s home and the fun they had with cousins, I would hope they would not ask me our plans. Explaining we had no local family was not fun and often came with looks of pity.

As the years have passed, we have created the tradition of asking all those with no one to celebrate a holiday to celebrate with us. This tradition has created some of the best holiday memories, ones filled with laughter, the sharing of different cultures and amazing conversations. As the years have passed and the crowd around the table has shifted slightly, but grown tremendously, I have found myself looking forward to the holidays, of experiencing excitement and joy.

No one should live life alone, especially not on a holiday. It takes great courage to open your home and invite people in to share in your traditions, but I promise you will not regret it. We share pictures on social media of animals in need of forever homes, what if we shared pictures of homes with open chairs for those in need of a place to celebrate.

Please practice safety, be smart and do not share personal information online. But also, be brave and invite someone in need of a celebration into your home. You never know, you may just find your new best friend.

I love to hear from my readers. You can reach me at

Sara Orellana-Paape lives in Lawton.

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