OPINION: Happy Thanksgiving — count your many blessings

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Recently most of my immediate family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. One family was absent as the children were ill, but there were still more than 30 of us gathered into a small space visiting and bemoaning the fact that we were too full to enjoy the plethora of desserts.

Three little girls under 2 years of age entertained many of us as they practiced their crawling, walking and babbling skills.

Children, cousins, roamed the nearby woods, chasing each other, oblivious to the cold.

Many of the men gathered around a fire blazing in a fire pit, exchanging hunting stories.

When I moved here in 1980, I could not have envisioned this life. As we crowded around the several tables with unmatched chairs, sent children to the den with trays of food, and navigated around one another in the tight space, I realized how blessed I am. Several of my children have larger homes with more open design, providing a different environment in which to gather. And, they have hosted the family gatherings many times. One daughter is just finishing construction of her new home and will host our Christmas gathering.

I clearly remember many years ago, when feeling stressed with seven children 9 years of age and younger, reading a great little book on mothering. When the young mother of six children complained about the work associated with that size of a family, her mother said something like, "Well, maybe God will take one away." Now, she wasn't wanting there to be a loss, but she was gently reminding her to be grateful for the blessings (many of which come with additional responsibilities).

And, even today, I could complain if I focused on the negatives or the things we don't have. But, instead we determine to focus on the blessings we do enjoy -- health, homes, family and friends, among the many benefits we enjoy.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, even as we recall our losses of the past few years (illness, death, finances, etc.), let's determine to focus on the benefits of each of the trials. For those who have lost loved ones to death, consider the memories of the times together.

I'm thankful for the opportunity, the blessing, the benefit (and yes, the trials and responsibilities) of being alive, healthy, a mother to nine wonderful adult children and their nine spouses (girlfriends), 15 grandchildren and another one the way, and the many friends with whom God has blessed me. I'm grateful God brought me back to northwest Arkansas, to the newspaper and to the many people I've met through this job.

As you gather Thursday with family, friends or are alone, recount the blessings of the moments of which your years have been made and consider telling someone you're thankful for them. You may just brighten their day.


Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected].