Last month Pat and I drove to San Diego to celebrate Thanksgiving and my 70th birthday with family.

My actual birthday was in March, commemorated then with Pat's wonderful gift of a trip to the NCAA Basketball Final Four tournament. Our larger celebration was delayed to when the whole family could participate. We hadn't all been together for years.

The weekend was hosted by my son John and his wife, Cat, - both in the Navy - who live in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego. John is the executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

My son David, his wife, Cinta, and their two children, Clinton and Laila, flew in from Boston. David is an orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital while Cinta consults as a quality control engineer. Clinton is 16 and Laila is 11.

My son Steven and his wife, Lynne, along with their two dogs, drove to San Diego from Houston. Both Steven and Lynne are librarians, Steven at the University of Houston's downtown campus and Lynne in the public library system.

Pat's son, David, flew in from Phoenix, where he is a prosecuting attorney.

Most of the group stayed at Loews Coronado Bay resort on the Silver Strand, a few miles south of Coronado Island. The hotel has very nice rooms and terrific views of San Diego and the Coronado Bay Bridge.

John rented a van to take all of us to Thanksgiving dinner on Shelter Island.

The next evening was my "birthday" dinner at the hotel's fabulous restaurant.

One of the highlights of the weekend was John giving us a tour of the Nimitz, anchored in San Diego harbor. What an impressive ship! I can hardly imagine what it's like when it goes operational with the full complement of sailors and the entire air wing, totaling more than 5,000 people.

Eleven days after Thanksgiving the Nimitz left San Diego for Bremerton, Wash., its new home port for several months.

We had a grand time. I am so appreciative of my family's efforts to get together with everyone's busy schedules and geographic constraints. Pat said we were building wonderful memories - a nice way to look at our family gathering. We also added a few pounds … so back to the diet!

Pat and I hope you're having your own family gatherings. May you have the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!

E-mail Bob Ring at or view his website,