Creating My Own Thanksgiving Traditions and Being Grateful

Many families have Thanksgiving traditions, but since my divorce in 2011 I’ve had to figure out the holiday for myself. With Thanksgiving and Christmas being so close together, I wait to visit Nebraska at Christmas. When I was married, it was easy – we went to his family for one holiday and mine for the other, switching off every year. My mother used to come up to Minnesota for a week, but she’s getting to the age where cold, blustery weather (and always the possibility of a winter storm) can’t compare to no threat of snow in warm, sunny Austin, Texas, where another of my brothers resides.

Thanksgiving is usually spent with friends and I often try to volunteer for organizations that serve a traditional dinner to those who don’t have family or are disabled and would otherwise spend the holiday alone. Participants are extremely grateful, and it always makes me realize how fortunate I am.

What else am I thankful for?

  • Connecting with people who are genuine friends and who have helped me to grow as a person. When I fractured my elbow this spring, I was overwhelmed by the immense kindness of friends.
  • Having the financial means to support programs through organizations I really believe in – COMPAS, Planting People, Growing Justice; the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, and the East Side Learning Center. These nonprofits help strengthen communities through an appreciation of the arts, human rights, a belief that literacy is an imperative for all, and working with families to end the cycle of poverty.
  • Being part of a loving, close-knit family.
  • Regaining my health by refusing to continue to take debilitating drugs for my Crohn’s disease and finding a much more holistic approach.
  •  Having the good fortune to see my crime novel, Salvation Station, published in April 2020.

Before the craziness of the holidays officially begins, what are you thankful for this year?

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