Thanksgiving stories: Travelers give reminders of the reason for the season

There’s something special about the airport the night before Thanksgiving. The air is lighter. The smiles are brighter. The hugs are tighter.

Tampa International Airport expects to see about 725,000 travelers during the 12 days around thanksgiving. That's a lot of people with a lot of different stories. There's no place like TPA to get a reminder of what the holiday is all about.

Cameron Dabrowski of Seattle is in town to visit her grandparents.

Lorelei Spataro lives in Tampa and came to the airport to pick up her son, Nicholas. He goes to school in Arizona.

"We have three kids. Having him home, it just makes everything complete," Spataro told FOX 13.

Around the main terminal, there were moments that could make you cry, but in the best possible way. 

A large family held an American flag and "welcome" balloons. After a journey from Cuba, Derek Gonzalez was ready for his family to again be whole.

"Many weeks of trying to bring my step family to the states, and thank goodness, before Thanksgiving. That's a blessing in itself," said Gonzalez. "We're just all so happy… I'm still shaking right now. Just a blessing. Thank God, thank everything."

Giving thanks, even if a few are missing from the table this year; they're loved from afar.

"It's all about family," said Sam McCarthy. "Rest in peace to my grandfather, and I'll miss my sister. Thank you for serving our country."

Everywhere you look at Tampa International Airport, there are reasons to smile.

Marina Rao told FOX 13 she's thankful she got a new, "big girl" job.

Matt Cassidy said he was thankful for his family, "most of all, my mother who's 91 and my daughter and my grandson. We have four generations for Thanksgiving."

For those simply getting to enjoy a Thanksgiving sunset in Florida, that's a blessing all by itself.

"Always be grateful for your family and friends and spread love and tell people you love them. That's it," said Molly Reali.