This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. As I await the first snowfall here in West Central Wisconsin, I am getting so excited to enter the holiday season. Harvest is complete, the table is set and it is time to celebrate the greatest blessings in our lives.
Thanksgiving always has been and always will be my favorite holiday. While growing up on my family's farm, I remember hastily completing chores with my dad so we could go inside my grandma's house to warm up. Once inside, we were blasted with the rich aroma of a proud Norwegian kitchen: mashed potatoes with an unmeasurable amount of butter, bowls of rich stuffing and piles of lefsa making my mouth water. Except for the pungent stink of Dad's lutefisk, the smells of Thanksgiving are some of my favorite.
But Thanksgiving is about much more than the food; it's about the company as well. While hosting a large meal can be a headache, everyone comes together with thankful hearts. While in college, my sorority always hosted a large Thanksgiving feast the Monday before the break. Preparing the meal was an all-hands-on-deck adventure. Someone would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to start roasting the multiple turkeys and hams. Groups of sisters would spend hours baking pies, preparing roles and mixing casseroles. Usually by midday, a breaker would go out from all the roasters going, but that was always a part of the adventure and are some of the holiday memories I will cherish for a lifetime.
Preparing the Thanksgiving feast always concluded with the meal itself. I will never forget my sophomore year when some 110 guests quite literally filled our house. To see that many of my peers come together under one roof to enjoy a meal and each other's company was incredible.
Beyond the food and even the company, though, Thanksgiving is about appreciation. It is recognizing the things we sometimes take for granted and appreciating the value they hold in our lives. Whether that is family you don't always get to see, having a place to call home or your health, even on the toughest of days, there are so many things for which we should be thankful for.
I'm an avid shopper and, yes, I love taking advantage of Black Friday deals. But it's also frightening how fast we all move past our one dedicated day of thankfulness to start making purchases. While many individuals are shopping in hopes of finding the perfect gift for a loved one, it is easy to get wrapped up in the hunt for a deal and soon forget the spirit of Thanksgiving.
While doing an interview for one of my stories this issue, Stacy Sosinsky told me about another opportunity to give thanks while impacting the lives of others. Following the Thanksgiving holiday and major shopping events such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving to harness the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations for the common purpose of celebrating and encouraging giving. Giving Tuesday is about ordinary people coming together to achieve extraordinary things.
Donating to a charity, volunteering at a shelter or simply conducting one random act of kindness are just a few ways to make Giving Tuesday a part of your Thanksgiving season. While we all have much to be thankful for, the holiday season is equally a time to show our kindness to one another. We are moving into a beautiful time of year; be kind and be thankful.