Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
It is my favorite of all holidays and each year (for as long as I have worked at the Leader) I try and sneak in a piece to remind readers to ‘give thanks.’
Each year the holidays look a little different to me, thanks to the eyes and views of my pint sized tenants (commonly known as my children).
My son has voiced much displeasure this year at the early set-up of Holiday (Christmas) decorations in stores and newspaper ads.
“We still have not eaten the turkey,” he proclaims regularly.
His sister of course is a sucker for the marketing and reminds him that Christmas comes next.
“But don’t you want to sing just one song,” she asks (frequently), referring to Christmas Carols.
I, of course, find it all funny. I have much respect for my son as he recognizes the placing of the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’ but it is a good lesson for him. Such is the way of the world we live in.
On a personal note, I have much to be grateful for. Like many, we have had a trying year, yet we still feel and recognize our blessings. Our family is healthy, love is in abundance and in a nutshell our life is, simply put… pretty amazing.
This past year I have come to recognize not only my own blessings, but many which are right here in the 95361.
Recently, as I began considering how this column would go, I tried to place myself in the head of our readers.
Not everyone approaches life from a glass half full perspective. I say this not with judgment, but rather as a matter of fact. Differences are indeed what make the world an amazing and wonderful place. As I have shared in a number of columns before this, I am truly grateful to be a member of this community.
Without being in the center of all the action, I cannot help but wonder how many realize all the gifts we take for granted in this town.
The one which comes to mind first would have to be our Community Sharing program and the varying church based programs which have sprouted up around town through the years. These volunteer-run efforts see that families, regardless of means, have not only a Thanksgiving meal but food in their pantries. The fellowship and dedication to run the varying ‘pantry based’ programs are truly a gift to many in our town. Having such resources locally make it easy for the recipients namely those without transportation posing as an obstacle.
Varying groups, organizations and grants help keep the pantry programs going. I am especially proud of our schools and the proactive approach they take each year with their Food Drives. Food Drives offer parents the opportunity to have conversations addressing the ‘why’ and ‘how come’ families might need to seek help.
Speaking of our schools, this would be another thing I am grateful for in this community. Often times (in other areas) there seems to be the misperception that teachers choose teaching for the money and the schedule. This opinion often makes me chuckle as I think of my friends teaching classes of 24-plus students and what they are paid annually. Roughly speaking a mid-level teacher in our town earns about $13 a student per day in income. Comparatively speaking most daycares in the area charge between $20 to $28 a day and educating the children they are caring for is optional. Keeping in mind our teachers are paid to ‘teach’, but they are also caring for our children at the same time.
I feel fortunate to have many friends who happen to be educators, yet I often wonder how many realize how much ‘out of class’ time they put into their work. Many a Saturday I have received messages from a friend seeking something special for her class or a picture showing me a ‘find’ her classroom will be excited by.
So, yes, regardless of where my child ranks scholastically – I am truly grateful for the educators in our town.
I have lived in varying zip codes throughout California (military bases included), but I have never felt as much a sense of true ‘community’ as I have in the 95361. During the course of this year I have watched this town rally for varying families and organizations collecting literally hundreds of thousands of dollars all in the name of making a difference. It is truly a gift to live in a town where the simple act of ‘service’ is actually a part of everyday life.
This became apparent to me most recently as ‘service’ was mentioned to my son during an extra curricular activity and how he could be rewarded for such. As we drove home, discussing the night’s event my son was confused.
‘What do they mean, mommy…. ‘service’?’
I reminded my son of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, the Lemonade Stand for Make a Wish we helped with or some meal coordinating we did for a friend as they cared for their family.
‘That’s service?’ my son asked, clearly confused.
‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘To some, it deserves reward or merit, but for us… well, it is just what we do.’
Oddly, my seven-year-old understood and pushed no further with the questioning.
‘We show up when we are needed,’ I continued. ‘And fortunately our friends do the same. That is what makes this place so special.’
So, as you thumb through the paper and shake your head at the Police Log, scoff at a story you find misrepresented or silly, I hope you also take a moment at some point in time to recognize the efforts of many in this ‘small’ town.
Perhaps you might even share it or tell them. ‘Tis the season.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.