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Time for a gratitude attitude

November 25, 2007|By BILL KOHLER

A lot of people hate the holidays.

Too much noise, too much money, too much traffic and too much family.

Me, I love it.

Holidays are to be treasured for many reasons. Giving and receiving gifts, the magical smiles and laughter of children on holiday mornings, the reunion of family and friends, the reflection on another year gone by.

I've always been a big fan. I even love Christmas music. (I know my reporters will ride me about that.)

As we grow older and our lives evolve and change, we also tend to think back not only on what we've accomplished personally and professionally, but we reflect on things to be thankful for.

I'm not preaching here, just trying to look on the bright side. That's something I think we all could use a little more of. And most times, when you look back on the year and take some time to dwell on the things you've been blessed with, it tends to lift the spirit.

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Even in the face of despair and gloom, you many times can find a silver lining.

I know many people have lost a loved one this year and might be missing someone deeply. Be thankful for the friends and family who came to your aid when you needed them. Those who brought food and flowers. Those who cared enough to be there when you felt most alone.

Many of us can be thankful for the steady economy in the Tri-State area. Jobless rates are low from Franklin County, Pa., to Jefferson County, W.Va., and new opportunities are out there if you know where to look.

One thing that amazes me every year is the lengths people will go to help perfect strangers.

The string of American Cancer Society Relay for Life events boggles my mind. Thousands of people every year plan, solicit, donate and then walk for hours through the night and into the wee hours - all for others.

One group that gets overlooked around the holidays is our troops, who are putting themselves in harm's way to preserve our freedoms. Yes, they volunteered to serve, but our way of life and many freedoms we take for granted are protected by them, oftentimes in faraway lands away from their loved ones. Send them a letter, mail them a shoe box full of goodies through a local church, stop them at the airport and shake their hands.

This area also has a strong family and religious cord that makes it special. If you're looking for a church home, there are plenty of places to welcome you. That's reason enough to give thanks.

For many of us, however, the best reason to be thankful over the holidays is our family.

A lot of families are spread to the wind because of marriages, jobs or disagreements, but there's not a better time for reconciliation or reconnection than Thanksgiving or Christmas. I know the former is over and you're probably already sick of turkey leftovers, but pick up the phone and say hello. Send an e-mail and catch up.

Call an aunt in Colorado, an old college friend in New York or better yet, bring some holiday cheer to some lonely soul in a nursing home. They will be thankful.

I am thankful that my family is in close proximity and still likes one another. (Well, at least they act like they like me.)

My father is battling leukemia, and a greater man I have not met. He is my hero, my mentor, my friend. We've spent a lot of time together the past six years and he's had a tough time of it. But he's never outwardly complained or asked, "Why me?"

I am lucky to know him. I am grateful and honored to be his son and share his name.

For all these things, I am thankful.

Now it's your turn: What are you thankful for?

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 1-800-626-6397 or by e-mail at billk@herald-mail.com.

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