Thanksgiving is only a week away and I wanted to share some things that I am truly thankful for, and also help everyone remember what is really important as we prepare for the holidays. My ultimate first and always number 1 thing that I am thankful for is that I have the right to worship the God of my choice and that he is always there when: I need someone to talk to, someone to comfort me, and the one that will continue to answer my prayers.
I am truly thankful for my family and friends. I have been blessed to have healthy children and grandchildren, who are free to run and play, think and learn, who have enough to eat every day, and who have not been scarred by the horrible experiences of a war. I have been married to a wonderful man for almost 39 years. We have been through good times and bad, successes and failures, and still seem to be able to make each other laugh when most needed. We all complain about budget cuts, and rightfully so:), but very few of us have ever experienced devastating hunger, cold because of having no clothes to keep us warm or not heat in our homes, fatal sicknesses due to not having vaccines, and a bleak future where jobs are even more scarce than in the U.S. I have the luxury of playing with my grandchildren, having presents and a meal on holidays, and the security that a bomb will not go off during our celebration. I have friends that have become like family that I know I can count on and are there to lend a shoulder when needed. They bring me laughter and happiness, remind me when I complain of what I DO have, and cheer me up when I feel down. They too have become like "family" in so many ways.
I am truly thankful that a child molester has finally been put behind bars and all those who turned the other cheek are paying a price for standing idly by and watching as children were being severely abused. I am sure it is very difficult for most of us to even imagine that those who are "supposed to be doing the right thing and setting an example" didn't stop a monster from harming children for several years. Again, children pay the price because they cannot speak for themselves and can be intimidated by someone in authority, someone they are supposed to be able to trust. What does this say to us as a society? I for one would not have been able to walk out of that locker room, I would have charged like a bull at the abuser and told the child to run as fast as he could to get away. Then, if I was still physically able, would have run to the nearest police station and reported what I saw, there would have been no "chain of command", there would have not been a call to my dad, all that would have happened is that a "devil" would have been put away that day! My hope is that this tragedy will make all of us more aware and encourage us to do what is right, especially when it comes to children.
I am truly thankful to have a job, a vehicle to get to my job, and the physical ability to perform my job. My dad had a saying, "if you can get up and out of bed in the morning and go to work, you should get down on your knees and thank the Lord!" I guess I didn't always know exactly what he meant, but, as I age, I truly understand. We sometimes complain that we have to get up and go to work, or that our job is not "fulfilling" us enough, but there are so many that don't have the opportunity to get up (some cannot physically get out of bed) and go to work and earn a decent living, those of us who can need to remember how fortunate we are and be thankful.
I am truly thankful that I live in a free country and thank the veterans and service men and women who have fought and continue to fight to keep it that way. I cannot imagine living in a country where you have to watch everything you say for fear of being punished, where you have to walk down a street with your face covered, or where you cannot get in your vehicle and drive to where ever you want without being afraid you will be stopped and searched. Words cannot express how thankful I am to those who are constantly defend these rights and the rights of others. They truly do sacrifice all:)
I am truly thankful for all the teachers, child caregivers, programs and agencies that support services for young children. You are given challenges everyday, you fight through bureaucratic frustrations, you wipe runny noses and change dirty diapers with a smile, you provide comfort and support for families and children who are going through rough times, and many times, receive little compensation for your dedication. You have a love a children that cannot be taken away and it shows in your commitment everyday to make things better for them. You look at the glass as half full, not half empty and keep pushing everyday. Always remember, you truly ARE making a difference!
Please remember to be thankful for all the blessings you have, especially for your children. I know they are thankful for you:)
Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Specialist for the Marshall County Early Childhood Iowa Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.marshallempowerment.com.