My little feet padded down the basement stairs. The walls were lined with copies of National Geographic. I ran my fingers along the spines, and pulled out a couple magazines. Settling into the couch, I spent some time sifting through pages and dreaming of future adventures. Then, hopping off the sofa, I rounded the corner and opened the door, as I’d done countless times before. I was instantly met with the familiar and welcome scent of the darkroom. I slid in between Bruce Dale and his wife Joyce, and my eyes widened as an image magically appeared.

The Dales, a family of five, lived a mile down the road in Arlington, Virginia. I probably spent half my childhood at their home. Forty years my seniors, Bruce and Joyce were longtime friends of my parents. They were my buddies. And my buddies led pretty extraordinary lives. He is a world-renowned photographer, who published over 2,000 photos in his 30 years with National Geographic. She was a musician, publisher, gardener, and a talented photographer in her own right.

I’ve been thinking about the Dales a lot these days, as Joyce passed away over Thanksgiving three years ago. And Bruce, well, he just had his 80th birthday. I learned a lot about life in my time with them. We could all use a little of their wisdom right now. In gratitude this Thanksgiving, here are five valuable life lessons I gathered from the Dales.

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