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November 26, 2013 8:26 am

Pause and reflect on the many reasons to truly give thanks

Written by Tom Lawrence

There are many reasons to be appreciative this time of year. We’re thankful:

• To be around such friendly, polite, open people. Wyoming is a wonderful place to live, although a lot of people don’t realize that.

The 576,000 or so folks who do call this state home are proud to be here, and glad for the space. Wyoming has been called a small town with long streets, and we like both of those things about the state.

• To live in one of the most scenic, spectacular places on the planet.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are within driving distance, and Heart Mountain and the other majestic places in this region are daily reminders of the wonders of this world.

• For the seasons.

Sure, the cold, snow and ice aren’t for everyone, but experiencing winter here is part of the package, with the promise of spring, the glory of summer and the splendor of fall.

• For the people we spend our time with.

Family is precious, and whether it’s parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, in-laws and outlaws, we choose which ones to talk, laugh and argue with, and are grateful for almost all the time with them.

Friends are the people you decide to love and enjoy, and they are among the most precious gifts in this life. Hold close the people who care for you, and they will do the same to you.

• That we have so many entertainment options available to us.

Not everyone in Wyoming hikes, camps, fishes and hunts, but a great many of us do. There are few places where all those outdoor opportunities are so readily available, and taking advantage of that is one reason for loving life here.

Powell and Park County offer a wide variety of events each month. It’s impossible to find a week in the calendar when there isn’t a concert, an art exhibit or event at one of the local museums or another opportunity for entertainment.

Like other people, we also appreciate the fact that with a press of a few buttons, we can see and hear TV shows, movies, music and a plethora of programming and information that was undreamed of just a few years ago. The modern age has distractions and problems all its own, but it also is a true wonder of technology.

• For the pleasure of stimulating conversations with a relative or friend, chatting in the comfort of a kitchen, on chairs and couches in a living room or over a beverage or two. Like our distant ancestors millions of years ago, we crave human contact and an exchange of ideas, and are glad for both.

• For books. Magazines. And of course, newspapers.

The printed word gets knocked around a lot lately, but people still crave the chance to close their mouths and open their minds to invigorating writing. We’re thankful you’re reading this, and encourage young people to turn off their glowing devices and seek information in this peaceful, more thoughtful manner.

• For animals. Many of us adore our pets, well aware of the joy and peace we can find through close contact with our animal friends. Give ’em a taste from the table, an extra pat, hug or good thought this week.

We also admire the animals who do work for us, who provide us rides, perform services and end up on our tables.

• That we will have a break from the divisive, bitterly partisan political culture that is American politics today.

We plan to ignore any and all politicians on Thanksgiving, and hope they have the good sense — sure, it’s a longshot, but we’re hoping — to give it a rest for a day.

• For the opportunity to practice our faith, or to not do so. Freedom of religion — or freedom from religion — is a treasured American tradition. Many of us will give thanks to God this week, and will be reminded to do so more often.

• For the good meal most of us will enjoy on Thursday, either with close family and friends or in a setting with neighbors, friends and community members.

Unlike Halloween, with its deluge of candy, decorations and ancient myths, and Christmas, with the pressures to spend and place an economic value on celebration, Thanksgiving remains much the same as it was decades ago.

It’s a quieter time, a chance to gather with those we choose to share a meal and time with during a day devoted to giving thanks for all that we have been given.

Make sure you find time today, this week and every day to appreciate all that is good and worthwhile in your life. You may well be surprised, and pleased, at the list.

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