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It’s Easy to be Thankful if we Look Around



By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – Thanksgiving is a tough one for me. Taking a special day to be thankful is certainly a worthy reason for a holiday, but I feel a measure of remorse in thinking I should be more thankful on this day, or that I may somehow have covered my thanks for the rest of the year, when I recognize the need and ability to be thankful every single minute of every single day. As such, I view Thanksgiving with a bit more lighthearted touch. I’m certainly mindful on that day and would tell anyone who asks what I’m thankful for, but I focus mostly on family and friends on this holiday. After all, they make up the bulk of what I’m thankful for.  

There is also the annual feast, that causes me to really focus on my diet for the coming year… a focus I tend to lose a few weeks later, but that’s for another story. 

I took a moment to reach out to a few friends and asked their thoughts on what they are thankful for this year. Some were unable to respond in time for my deadline, but those who could rewarded me with a wealth of things to ponder. I appreciate you all for responding and thank each of you for allowing me to not only reflect on your thoughts but share them here as well. 

Personally, it’s been a roller coaster of a year. I made a career change and ended up back here in my beloved East Texas. I’ve been rewarded with the opportunity to write and work daily with old and new friends who have been a true blessing. My mom and dad are still operating at mostly full speed every day. My children and granddaughter are all healthy and happy and are on positive paths. The Pandemic hit home a few months back, but my family and friends have all come out on the other side and are making progress every day. I also learned to constantly be aware of how grateful I am for every minute I have with my wife considering I spent several days thinking I might not have many more. 

It’s a lot, and that list only scratches the surface. As for my friends, here is what they had to say: 

“I’m most thankful for wisdom, not that I have attained it all, but I have learned to be content without being satisfied. Progress is always possible, and every day is a new day to maximize your potential! Secondly, I’m so thankful to have my priorities straight, which are faith in God, Focus on Family and Perseverance in adversity. Thirdly I’m so glad to be operating in a career that is a passion. Preaching, teaching, teaching and leading.” 

Don Jackson, Grapeland ISD Superintendent, Mentor, Coach, Pastor, excellent dancer 

“Well, I would say that I am most thankful for my family and close friends. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and three grown kids who are self-sufficient and happy, and close friends who are loyal and who I know I can go to for anything if I am ever in need. I am so thankful that the Lord has seen fit to bless me with the life that I live.” 

U.S. Army LTC (ret) Damon Brown, Grapeland Native, Loves my mom’s chocolate pie 

“I am thankful for all the blessings God has showered on me.  To have my beautiful family and be able to watch my grandkids grow up in a community that still holds many of the same values that we held when I was growing up.” 

D’Linda Mahaffey, Teacher, Legendary Sandie Drum Major, Grapeland Native 

“This year I’m very thankful to still be sharing the Thanksgiving meal with my parents, both of whom are over 80. I’m also thankful we have come through another year COVID free.”  

Kim Platt, Emerson’s awesome mom, Authority on all things Cool, Grapeland Native 

“I’m thankful for family! Not just family by blood, but also family by friendship & work family! Living four hours away from home makes you miss blood family but also very thankful for those friends & coworkers who step up as family!” 

Cheryl Fraser, Public Health Director, Grapeland Native, Spreader of Happiness and Laughter 

“Hmmm….I’m grateful for my family and my health. I’m grateful I can still do things I love to do like take pictures, sew & craft, dance and get on my horse every once in a while. LOL!  I have become acutely aware of “the last time” I’m ever going to do things in my old age!” 

Marsha Cook, Photographer, Artist, The Standard for All Peanut Queens, Grapeland Native 

“I am thankful for the opportunities afforded me this year to serve others, it’s been a blessing to do so. I never go a day without being blessed by a caring family and friends who seldom disappoint!” 

Troy Harrison, Marine, Police Chief, Firearms Instructor, Houston County Native 

It’s far too easy to watch the news and feel a measure of despair. The world constantly seems to be at odds, and the picture that is painted for us is often bleak. The overwhelming feeling I get from these responses, however, is that hope begins right where we stand. The people we love, the paths we choose, the moments we enjoy, they all paint a more positive picture. Our happiness isn’t determined by what we’re told to think or believe, but rather by the life we choose to live. 

I wish you all the very best on this Thanksgiving. I hope your day is wonderful, filled with family, friends and lots of laughter. Most of all I hope you are overwhelmed with good and happy things for which to be thankful. 

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com 

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