From the comfort of a beautiful house in California, Paul and Leann Sullivan seem to have it all. But their scenic home is a rental, and not even the clothing in their closets was originally theirs.
"I was shopping in Salvation Army last Saturday, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be ironic to find something I've donated,'" Leann laughed. "But I didn't."
One month ago, the Sullivan's Rancho Bernardo, Calif., home was burned to the ground, and the couple found themselves waiting in line at an aid center.
Today, in the aftermath of the recent California wildfires, they are meeting with architects and feeling optimistic about the future.
Standing amid the rubble that was once their home, Paul said, "We'll have a much better house. We'll have a new house on this property. The house we always wanted — yeah!"
Seven days a week, crews in full hazmat gear are cleaning toxic air out of homes that otherwise look fine.
Dan Macari, who runs a restoration business, said, "This one had a really bad smoke smell. It was eye-burning for the first three, four days."
Life around Rancho Bernardo may stray from the norm, but it is certainly busy — and not just with house reconstruction. The trickledown effect of these fires has created an economic explosion for small businesses.
Signs of new life are everywhere, with even the tiniest of plants popping out of the scorched earth.
On this Thanksgiving, Leann declares that she's ordering in and laughs that she doesn't have any recipes.
There is a palpable sense of thanks today for what isn't lost in Rancho Bernardo. The Sullivans don't have pans or recipes or even their restored home, but they will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with a new appreciation for what really matters.