As I reflect on 2015 this Thanksgiving, it will always be a meaningful year in my life for a number of reasons.  It's a year that so much has changed and I've received so many reminders of kindness and friendship.

It was almost a year ago that my then wife and I decided that our marriage needed to come to an end.  It wasn't a surprise, we had been in trouble for some time, and we were at a place where there wasn't anger or hatred that you sometimes see in this situation.  We started 2015 knowing we would go our own ways, so from the beginning, this year was quite different.

Colton & Jeff Go-Kart

For the first few months of the year, we kept it between us as we wanted to prepare to to help our son through it, get some things situated financially, and start the process of lining up individual residences and all the details that go along with this big change.  If you've been through it, you know it's not an easy process, and no matter how prepared you are, many things will change along the way.

As we revealed the news to friends, family, and colleagues, I was struck by the compassion and kindness the news was met with.  There were people I hadn't heard from in years who sent a message of encouragement.  No one cheers for a divorce, but the support and reassurance that things "will be fine" and "this is not the end of your story" were welcome and consistent.  I was appreciative of the genuine offers to help with childcare, moving, or "just here to listen" that kept coming in.

Jeff & Colton in the Hammock

I'm not a great friend, I struggle to maintain contact with even those I hold most dear, but people were gracious and called or wrote just to say "hi" and make sure I knew they were here.  I had the chance to travel to a few places I've called home and reconnect with friends and family, each opportunity was truly a gift.

My time with my son has been the most incredible gifts this year.  One of the upsides to being a single parent is that your time is more focused and, at least for me, I don't take it for granted.  Since he's not with me half of the time, when he is, it's all about us.  We do our Connell Boy Adventures, play football, soccer, baseball, and basketball.  We sit and talk, we read, and I treasure that time more than ever.

Connell Family Dinner @ The Village

My parents have made the trip in from Seattle numerous times and hosted us there just as many times.  They've also been incredibly supportive and joined us on a trip to let Colton experience Washington DC, Philly, and New York this summer.

I truly feel surrounded by love, kindness, and hope, and even in a year when so much changed, (and on the surface you could see it as so much went away) I feel I have gained so much more.

Jeff & Colton Connell Formal

I am grateful for the support from great people cheering for me the whole way.  I'm just genuinely thankful.

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