What comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season? Most people think of family and homecoming. I certainly do, so this week I will tell you what SQLFamily (#sqlfamily) means to me. I’m inspired by the time of the year as well as Tom LaRock’s (@sqlrockstar) recent #mememonday assignment on the same topic. (Check out Tom’s blog post "What #SQLFamily Means To Me" for his thoughts on the SQLFamily. The comments include links to SQLFamily stories from other people in the community as well.)

I have interesting experiences in the SQL Server community. Some of what makes them interesting is how long I’ve been part of the community. I’ve been working with SQL Server since 1990 and had started to become well known in the community by the early 1990s. I was inducted into the SQL Server MVP program during what I think was its second year around 1994. (No one knows for sure because Microsoft didn’t keep records about the program in the early years. SQL Server records? Heck no, not even in Excel.) I ran SQL Server Connections for a while, was on the inaugural PASS board, and was on the launch team for SQL Server Magazine. I’m thankful and blessed by all of those experiences. But my main point is that I’ve been in and around the community for more than 20 years, which is most of my career and gives me a perspective that many in the SQL Server community don’t have. Sadly I wasn’t as involved in the community for a while after launching my first company a decade ago. I still worked with SQL Server but didn’t speak as much or write as much about it. I resigned from the MVP program. I was focused much more on the business side of SQL Server and was absent from the community in many ways for five years or more. I certainly didn’t feel like I was part of the SQLFamily. (Maybe I was a long-lost cousin?) Various reasons led me to get more involved in the SQL Server community again over the past year. I’ll be honest; I began to reengage for professional and career management reasons, but a funny thing happened along the way—I’ve come to realize how much I missed the SQL Server community and SQLFamily. I’m once again one of those people who looks forward to SQLSaturday events and PASS Summit so that I can reconnect with people. I used to call it networking, but more and more it’s starting to feel like visiting with my SQLFamily.

Years ago I was visiting family in Florida for Thanksgiving. One of my relatives mentioned they had a turkey cooking in the oven at home. That seemed odd so I asked why. They said “we figure there is a good chance that we’ll have a fight with someone today and will storm home. We want to make sure we can eat turkey, just in case.” Yeah, SQLFamily can be like that sometimes, too, but it’s still family.

SQLFamily is comfortable and warm, like “Cheers” where everyone knows your name. Don’t laugh, but being part of SQLFamily makes me happy. I’ll let you in a little secret. I’m not quite as passionate about SQL Server technology as I was a decade ago. I’m still pretty good at it. I still enjoy it. But these days I’m more passionate about topics such as leadership and the development of people. (See my SQL Server Magazine blog “L.E.A.P. Think blog for more details at http://www.sqlmag.com/blogcontent/leap-think-54.) I’ve always been a performance-tuning geek, so I like to think of this as an exercise in people optimization. I’ve always assumed I would stay in the SQL Server field in some way. 20 plus years gave me a good rolodex and experiences that would be a shame to waste. However, lately I find myself wanting to stay engaged in the SQL Server community for SQLFamily as much or more as I do for career opportunities. How many people are blessed with careers that feel like family in even small ways? I’ve come to realize that SQLFamily is a special place to call home.

I wish joy and peace to each of you, your family, and your extended SQLFamily this Thanksgiving and holiday season. I hope that being part of the SQL Server community blesses you and enriches your life the same way it has mine.

Can someone pass me a slice of #sqlpie and throw some #sqlyule on the fire?