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It's Our Turn: Remember to be thankful

Several months ago, a special Echo Press reader told me she had clipped out the Thanksgiving column I had written several years ago and rereads it every once in awhile because it makes her feel good.

To a writer, that's the ultimate compliment!

I remembered the basics of the column, but not the details. So I dug it up. Too bad I hadn't kept a copy of my own to refer back to every time I felt that life handed me lemons.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought maybe you could also use a reminder to be thankful. So here it is - a reprint of the column that originally appeared in the Echo Press on November 17, 2006:



With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I've been doing some thinking about "thankfulness."

I wonder why it is that many people tend to get so caught up in the negative things in life that at times they forget to be thankful for the positive things.

Have you ever noticed how the bad things can seem so big, but the good things can so easily be taken for granted?

Each and every one of us has so much to be thankful for. Of course we're thankful for family and friends, good health, our homes and jobs...but there is so much more.

How about a sunny day... a warm breeze... icicles... a pile of leaves... snowflakes... flowers... pumpkin pie... rainbows?

I am thankful for words and music, books and chocolate, thunderstorms, puppies, trees, laughter, photographs, hugs, waterfalls, candles, hummingbirds, clouds, fireplaces, butterflies, corn stalks, cozy blankets and good movies.

I am thankful for the ability to see and walk, hear and talk...and so much more.

How about a nice hot cup of cocoa on a winter day or a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day?

Now if you are the negative sort, you may say, "But I don't like lemonade." But that's what is so great about life - if it hands you lemons, you have options! You don't have to make lemonade. Instead, you could give the lemons away to someone who would appreciate them, or put them in a bowl on your counter and admire their brilliant color, or learn to juggle with them. You have options.

Abe Lincoln once said, "People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Nothing could be truer.

Some of the people I most admire are the type who can take any situation and make something positive out of it. They find all kinds of great things to do with the lemons life hands them.

It isn't easy to always be that positive.

Of course we all have different situations and some of us do have more to be thankful for than others. But we can make up our minds to be thankful for what we do have and be happy with it, or we can decide that we are only going to see what we don't have - what is missing from our lives - and focus all of our attention on those things.

Martha Washington said, "I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances."

Have you ever known anyone who just doesn't want to be happy? There are people out there who, no matter what happens to them, are going to be miserable.

You know the type. They receive a gift - a blue sweater, for example - and spend the next several minutes telling the giver why they don't like blue.

You give them a compliment, perhaps on an accomplishment, and they put a lot of effort into trying to convince you that their feat wasn't so great.

After awhile, you quit giving the compliments, only to hear them tell someone else, "She never gives me a compliment."

We are the only ones who have control over how we perceive our own lives. What do you have to be thankful for? Name them one by one - I think you'd be surprised at how quickly they add up. Try it once - write them down. You'll soon realize how truly blessed you are.

In the words of Maya Angelou, "I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

What are you thankful for?

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Life Editor Tara Bitzan on Twitter at @TBitzan.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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