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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 10 October 2019  

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  Truly thankful
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
We are in the headlong sprint toward the end-of-year holiday season. Halloween is not a holiday, per se, but it’s certainly celebrated. Some really enjoy getting dressed up and others seek the huge intake of candy. I enjoy putting kids to the test in return for candy.
   For years, I have singled out the 12-year-and-older trick or treaters. I suggest they ought to be home studying, but I’ll make them a deal. If they can answer my fifth-grade level history or geography question, I’ll give them a piece of chocolate. If they can’t answer the question, they give me a piece of chocolate from their bag, or we go double or nothing! It’s amazing how, according to many of these young minds, Thomas Edison is the author of the Declaration of Independence!
   In November, we focus on gratitude. Beginning with Veterans Day, “Thank you” to all the veterans who served and to the active duty personnel carrying the torch of freedom. Eastonville Cemetery always looks majestic after the American Legion and Scouts place American flags at each veteran’s gravesite.
   Thanksgiving marks the fevered retail pitch toward Christmas. Black Friday sales are now shamelessly available on Thursday at 5 p.m.
   For Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus: My advice from last year’s column remains, “Give from the heart as you can — something they want, something they need, something to wear, or something to read” — and hopefully not out of obligation.
   Returning to the month of November, America isn’t the only country with a Thanksgiving holiday. Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Grenada, Liberia, Japan and Korea all have a day for family gatherings and gratitude for the ancient harvests.
   Fun fact I learned from the site, Modern Farmer, “Americans are often shocked to learn that Canadians believe they invented the holiday, and the Americans are the ones who copied it. Canadians trace the holiday back to 1578 — more than 40 years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock — when the English explorer, Martin Frobisher, organized a feast on a frigid fall day in Newfoundland to celebrate his crew’s passage through the Northwest passage.”
   This year, I find myself in search of authenticity in celebrating holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
   I want to get beyond the day’s effort to prepare and cook more food than we can possibly eat — followed immediately by the divide and conquer strategy for Black Friday deals.
   What does it look like to be authentically thankful and gracious at Thanksgiving?
   Is it a matter of walking through my home admiring my family and possessions? Maybe I could write myself a note saying, “Dear Self, you’ve really outdone yourself this year!”
   Along those lines, my sister-in-law, Stephanie, gave us a glass jar with blank pieces of paper in it. The jar’s purpose is to be available for anyone, anytime to grab some paper and write down statements of success, appreciation and gratitude.
   I submit we collectively spend much of the year reminded of and in pursuit of things we don’t have. With a gratitude jar, we could spend more than just Thanksgiving to be in the moment and write down the positive in our lives.
   If I spend this next year filling the jar with notes of appreciation, I will not only have a ‘jar-half-full’ moment but should also experience authentic gratitude while re-reading the past year’s notes.
   Before I close, I want to take this moment to tell you, “Thank you” for following my column. What started as a creative outlet and a way to think out loud on paper has turned in to something bigger than I imagined. I am humbled by your feedback and continued encouragement.
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