Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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Here we are again in what I call the “sandwich month.” November usually lacks the color and charm of October in all its autumnal glory and it doesn’t have the crisp beauty of snow-laden December. It tends to be the in-between month. Even its holiday, Thanksgiving, quite often gets overlooked between the shenanigans of Halloween and the festivities of Christmas.

However, this year we may be seeing a change for the better, and rightfully so. Even though stores started to put out their Christmas decorations way before Halloween like they always do, I noticed that Thanksgiving had a little more space on the shelves between Halloween and Christmas. There were even cartoons on Facebook that urged people to take a little more stock in November’s holiday. One particular one had a turkey pointing a finger at Santa saying, “December, Fat Boy, this month is for my holiday. Now hop in your sleigh and wait your turn!” I’m not sure I would be calling Santa “fat boy” this close to Christmas, but I do agree with the sentiment.

Thanksgiving is one holiday that merchants can’t really capitalize on and that means that its full colors come shining through. We are all so blessed, no matter what is going on in our lives. Yet, most of the time, we are in such a big hurry that we don’t take time to sit down, take stock and really acknowledge how blessed we are. Thanksgiving is one holiday that invites us to slow down, pause at least a half dozen things that control our lives and simply give thanks. For this reason, this holiday should never be short-changed.

I remember, when I was younger, families would sit around the Thanksgiving table and, one by one, tell what they were thankful for. What a nice tradition. By actually speaking it in front of loved ones, I think it makes you think about what there is to be thankful for long after the day has passed.

Like most everyone, I am so thankful for family, friends, and our good health. What could be more dear to the heart than those gifts. On the shirt tales of those three things, I am also thankful for faith, hope and love, and am so glad that family and friends possess these also.

But this year there is something more that has been a part of my life. I have learned a couple truths about myself that I am eternally thankful for. Simply put, first of all, I am thankful for me. This is a place in life that some people never get to. Let me explain.

In any given day, in any hour and in any moment, there are so many things that influence our emotions and beliefs, especially in today’s world of social media. For most of us, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, television, colleagues, family, friends and many more sources literally bombard us every day telling us what is going on and how we are supposed to react to those circumstances.

Have you noticed all the uplifting quotes and photos on Facebook lately. The intent is good, they want us to focus on the positive, seeing the good in things, being thankful for what we have. I get it. There is nothing wrong with that except we are social creatures and tend to “follow the crowd.” If we think that everyone around us has a certain opinion about something, then we feel compelled to have that same opinion. “Be happy, be glad, be sad!”  It’s like something is wrong with us if we think differently from the crowd or if we even think at all for ourselves. Family and friends, even though most times it is not intentional, tend to influence the way we look at things, too. After all, if we care and love someone so much, then they must be right.

I have done this my whole life until recently. I have finally learned that it is OK to be me, whoever that is. My opinion is exactly that, my opinion. If it is different from yours, I am not sorry, I will not change it and I mean no disrespect. I am simply being me. For this realization I am so thankful. You cannot know true happiness until your words, your thoughts, and your opinions reflect the you that lives inside your skin. It is one of the toughest things to come to realize and I would hope that others can figure this out way earlier than I did. I like being me.

Secondly, I am also thankful for where I am in life, not only emotionally, but also physically. I have had the privilege to grow up in the country and continue to live in the country and, more specifically, on a farm. There is no other place that you can get down-to-earth and learn the grassroots values that simple, hard life on a farm instills in a person. Yes, there are many who are born in the city and migrate to the country life, but it is never quite the same as if it’s in your blood. I have been so blessed to spend my years in the rural lifestyle and hope that the rest of my days are spent here as well. The hard work and values learned here have shaped me into being me.

Perhaps it is because of all the chaos, violence and hatred in today’s world, but this year I do see a trend of more folks holding Thanksgiving up to be what it was meant to be, a day to count blessings of what is good in our lives. For this one day, we do not focus on what is bad. With all the tragedy in the news lately, life is not valued. We come into this world with nothing and we are promised nothing. Perhaps it is time for each of us, regardless of where we are and what is going on in our world, to see life for what it really is — a gift, a gift to be thankful for. Yes, I am simply — thankful.

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