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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