For many years now, I’ve used this space at this time of year to extoll the virtues of buttery mashed potatoes, fun family gatherings, parades, and other warm memories of Thanksgiving. Those memories are still there and I’ll always try to access them for the comfort they provide. I’ve also been alive long enough to know that when our annual celebration of giving thanks comes around, pleasant memories sometimes take a back seat to the pain and hurt of loss and the difficulties of life’s challenges.
The sad truth is that many gatherings are not filled with joy and thankfulness. Many gatherings do not even happen.
A cherished face missing as we look around the table, a recent pain that won’t yet allow us to smile and warmly reflect on family celebrations past, may make it very difficult for some to stop and give thanks as we hope to do at Thanksgiving. Financial or health problems might overshadow the things that are still good in life.
When we are able to look around us and find many things for which to be thankful, we can also find hope for the future. The world is working for us and we can reasonably expect the good to continue. But if we are burdened with troubles and loss, our search for hope is more difficult. When there isn’t money for a feast or even a meal, a bleak outlook can often seem to make more sense than optimism. If our health or that of a loved one has failed, life can be tenuous and difficult. Hope can seem like it is just beyond our horizon in those moments.
But for those who can readily count their blessing and see a brighter future and those who may have progressed in their grief to once again be able to see the good in life, they can help others give thanks. And looking around our little community, they certainly do reach out to help.
There is a drive going on right now for goods or money for the Spencer – Owen Schools Owen Valley Backpack Buddies program that provides easy to store and prepare edibles to send home with students who may find the cupboards bare at home over the holiday. There’s a donation box at Babbs. If you would like to know more about how you can help Backpack Buddies, call Aaron LaGrange or Julie Allen at 812-829-2249.
Various churches and service clubs are putting on meals for those alone or in need or they are preparing Thanksgiving meal packs to send home with families who are worrying about immediate need and may not be readily able to find the good for which to give thanks. But our community is helping to provide at least some small blessings to help them give thanks.
And I know from hearing about them through the years that many families invite neighbors and friends who don’t have a regular Thanksgiving celebration into their own homes and include them in their own family for the day.
One of our greatest opportunities for giving thanks, is to try and give others the love and comfort that they may need to find their way back to seeing the good things for which they can be thankful and perhaps find the way back to hope.
We live in a wonderful community full of people who are able to count their blessings and who can look around at a wonderful life and rejoice in it. And many of those same people find ways to help others with their generosity and kindness. They help those in Owen County who might be struggling and, in the process, help others give thanks when hope seems remote.
Our love of our neighbors as brothers and sisters is indeed something we can be thankful for.
But don’t think for a moment that some buttery mashed potatoes won’t help. Those steaming bowls of yumminess may be the signal that things might just be alright . . . someday. Share some.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the volunteer board of directors and the staff of your OCCF.
Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value community involvement and charitable spirit. We are thankful for the wonderful support our community has provided to this organization.
If you would like to know more about how you can work with this local charity to use your charitable gifts to help Owen County, give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our new office on the south side of the Courthouse Square at 60 E. Market Street in Spencer.