To be truly thankful

THE WAY I SEE IT: Happy Thanksgiving from Michelle Blais

Happy thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy this day of appreciating the fall harvest, your friends, family and our community, and being present in this moment.

This holiday stirs the memory pot for me, from thoughts of my childhood when we lived on the farm.

It truly was a celebration of the harvest that we celebrated through to my young adult years when I would go to my mom’s home for the holiday and enjoy the camaraderie of my six siblings and assorted friends.

My step-dad and mom would get up early to get everything ready, nattering to each other over the meal prep and arrangements. Once awake, the whole group would pitch in and help in some way either before or after dinner.

The day also involved lounging in various comfy spots, reading exciting magazines like The National Enquirer, People, or other gossip mags that Mom’s friend Laurie dropped off for us to enjoy.

Thanksgiving dinners with my sons continue to fill my heart and my memory bank, especially now that my oldest has not been at our family table for many years.

Our Thanksgiving dinners in Vernon have always been with wonderful people who embraced us and became as important to us as family.

I like to ask everyone at dinner what they are thankful for. I love to hear the comments my sons have made over the years and am pleased that their family is among the list, along with new skis, winning teams, friends, and snow.

So this year I am thinking about what I am grateful for. One is my right to vote for our elected officials and that I can share my views, ask questions, and share information without fear of retaliation. So many fought and continue to fight for this right.

I really hope that young people get out and vote as well. If a strong majority of eligible voters vote, we may have a government reflecting who Canadians truly want to lead them.

So how do we as individual citizens, after we vote, make this community, province or country better?

There are many great avenues offered from volunteering with a service, helping clean up parks and streams, being part of a neighbourhood watch program, and being informed of the actions and concerns of your government.

I also believe an important way to strengthen a community is to build relationships with other citizens. This could be close to home by getting to know our neighbours and paying attention to our neighbourhoods.

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood can be reflected through a child’s eyes and their connections to their neighbours as they walk to school, ride their bikes or hang out in their yard.

When the lads were little we had a sheet on our kitchen bulletin board with a picture of our house in the middle and then drawings of the homes surrounding us with the neighbours’ names and phone numbers.

Neighbours watching children grow to teens, to young adults is very rewarding. We can all be a healthy part of supporting a young person’s development.

Being grateful every day is a very healthy activity. Having time to ponder and appreciate life has a way of shifting negative thoughts to positive.

To quote Jack Layton, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”