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Time for giving thanks

There is a children’s picture book, The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin.Through the story, all Papa Bear can think about is besting his friend, Farmer Ben, in the great pumpkin contest. Farmer Ben has a pumpkin farm. He has won every year for about ten years. Mama Bear repeatedly reminds Papa Bear, Brother and Sister that the time between Halloween and Christmas has another special holiday: Thanksgiving.

Everyone knows that nothing is the way it used to be. Everyone is trying to figure out a family plan for the holidays, to share the love, the joy of the season. I am reminded of something I heard when I was in high school: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.“And I am reminded of something my mother used to say, “Instead of counting your troubles, count your blessings.” There is even a song, Count your blessings.

It is easy to forget the good things in our lives when there is so much chaos around us. When we are lost in a land of confusion we become distracted from the things on which we should be focused.

Over the years I have had the opportunity and pleasure to speak with a lot of interesting people. I have learned things from all of them. Jim is a therapist. He once told me that we react to things differently over time. He compared it to a pendulum: at first it’s erratic, swinging wildly back and forth, but after a while it begins to slow down and become steady. I wonder if this will happen in our society. Will everyone slow down, become steady, as we have time to count our blessings? Can we count the things that have made our lives better, made us stronger, wiser, more confident? Can we count the things that we value highly? Can we slow down the pendulum from wild to steady?

You never know when your life is going to take a leap in an unexpected direction, bringing with it changes and/or difficult decisions with each bend in the road. Kait didn’t expect to walk around the bend on her way home from school and find her younger brother pinned to the ground, a boy straddling him, holding her brother’s head between his hands and beating it against the macadam street. It forever changed her because she always felt she had to protect her brother from his bullies, and she has gone through her life trying to protect the people around her, the people she loves and cares about. Still, she keeps walking toward those bends in her road, stronger and wiser with each new experience that comes her way.

Whatever you are struggling with, when you count your blessings, the good things that have happened to you, the love people have shown you, the smiles and affirmations, the out-reaching hands who want to help you pick yourself up again after a fall … a beautiful blue sky and sunshine to warm your face when the shadows are cold and forbidding. There are beautiful birdsongs if you pause to hear them, the laughter of small children who haven’t a care in the world because someone somewhere is providing a safe, kind, compassionate place for them to grow the way they need to grow and mature. There are people who have sacrificed for you, even if you don’t know it. Surely, our military, but also the unsung heroes in our lives who encourage us to dream dreams and pursue them, to love and be loved, to do what they perceive to be the best things, the right things.

As we reshape our Thanksgiving celebrations (as I am writing this the weather forecast for Thanksgiving is near 60 degrees, only 20 percent chance of rain) I remember when it snowed at Thanksgiving. I recall someone throwing a snowball at our house that hit the picture window. Fortunately the glass didn’t break that Thanksgiving Eve after all the stores were closed for the holiday.

Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Troubles won’t go away, but they might become a little easier to navigate. Have a happy and blessing-filled Thanksgiving, a day of peace in your home, in your heart, in the moment. The day after will be soon enough to return to running the gauntlet.

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Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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