Reflect, give thanks this special holiday

As many of us who live and work in Polk County prepare to gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, there is much to be thankful for as we enter the busy holiday season.

Sure, we often are surrounded by negative news. Locally, the economic recovery seems to be leaving many in Polk County behind. For every new business that opens, another seems to close. Many agencies are expecting to serve a record number of individuals and families in need of assistance this holiday season. Nationally, it seems a week doesn’t go by where we don’t hear about a shooting in a community or at a school or university somewhere. And across the globe, the threat of Isis is becoming a growing concern.

Yet, despite these negative events, there are still many reasons for us to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

• Appreciate the food you are eating and the person or people who prepared it for you as you gather at the table. No doubt it was prepared with lots of love. And for those who can’t afford to put a meal on the table, there are a number of groups, organizations, churches and businesses who are offering free Thanksgiving dinners in and around Polk County. No one should go hungry on this — or any other — day.

• Look at the people around you and be thankful that you are not spending the holiday alone. No one should be alone on Thanksgiving who doesn’t wish to be so. If you don’t have someone to spend Thanksgiving with, volunteer at one of the meal sites offering food this holiday. You’ll feel warm inside and someone will be grateful for your help.

• Be thankful for your family if you are spending the holiday with them. Nobody loves you more, even when you drive them crazy and they drive you crazy.

• Think about all the things you’ve learned this year and thus far in life. Be thankful that we never stop learning no matter what our age.

• Take time to reflect on how fortunate we are to be living in Polk County and in Oregon. Yes, our state has a number of ongoing issues it is facing, and the urban-rural divide seems to be getting worse. But we live in an area surrounded by beauty and bountiful natural resources. Few places offer you ocean beaches, snowcapped mountains and high desert country, all just a few hours apart.

We truly do have much to be thankful for. We have family and friends to be thankful for. We have events in our daily lives to be thankful for. We have good health to be thankful for. And we have reason to believe that the world around us will be better — and we certainly will be thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving, Polk County.

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