Although we come from different backgrounds and live diverse lives, during this season when we pause to give thanks, we’re all quite similar in what we put on our, “I’m Thankful For…” list. Family and friends top the list of Webster City residents.
The Oswald family
The Oswalds — Scott and Cathy, and Alex, 17; Collin, 15; Allison, 10; and Sydney, 7 — are a family who regularly counts its blessings.
“I’m thankful for our health and our freedoms — to worship and vote as we choose,” says Cathy.
“I’m thankful to live in a good neighborhood with people of all ages,” Scott says.
“They’re people you can trust and would do anything to help,” Cathy adds.
The Oswald boys are involved in many different sports and activities, and their younger sisters are busy as well. Scott and Cathy are glad the size of the community makes it possible for them to participate in varied activities, rather than having to focus on just one.
“I’m thankful to live in a community where the size of the schools allows the kids to be in multiple sports and activities; they can participate in lots of different things, which gives them a sense of purpose and belonging,” Cathy says.
A safe community and local businesses that provide basic needs are among the other things Scott counts as blessings. He also appreciates living in a rural community as opposed to a large city.
“We don’t have to drive 20 minutes to get somewhere,” he says.
Alex and Collin, both members of the Webster City Lynx football team, are thankful for a successful football season and the opportunity to continue on in a playoff game.
Alex, who graduates in May, is thankful for his family, teachers, coaches and friends who have helped him through high school.
“I’m thankful, too, for coming home to my family every day,” Collin says.
Allison is grateful for friends, family, pets Toby the dog and Ruby the cat, their family’s church and her piano teacher.
Sydney appreciates her family, friends, neighbors and food.
“Thanksgiving helps us to remember that we’ve been given so much,” Cathy says.
“We’re just like any other family — we sometimes forget to be thankful. It’s important to remember that it’s not about what you own or drive or do, it’s about how you treat people,” she adds.
“You need to count your blessings every day; it helps keep things in perspective,” says Scott.
Every Wednesday afternoon, four Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers meet at the Senior Citizens Center to work on craft projects. Recently, the group members discussed their blessings as they worked.
“I think we’re all thankful that we can get out and about,” says Maxine Brownfield. “I’m also thankful for my children and grand- and great-grandchildren, and that we can get together at Congregate Meals and play cards.”
Dorothy Myers says, “I’m thankful to live in my own home yet, to drive my own car and to come to RSVP for Congregate Meals.”
Charlotte Finch is also thankful for Congregate Meals, the friends she’s made there and for her health and grandchildren.
“I’m thankful for my health and that these ladies put up with me!” says Jean Youngdale.
RSVP volunteer coordinator Becky Koppen says she is thankful for our freedom to express our opinions and worship as we wish.
An “attitude of gratitude”
Why is it to our benefit to contemplate our blessings — during the holiday season and throughout the year? Rev. Craig Blaufuss at First Congregational UCC offers a faith perspective.
“It’s easy to get absorbed in what’s lacking or incomplete in our lives. Our culture focuses on upward mobility and becomes dissatisfied with what’s ‘undone,’ how we haven’t ‘arrived,’ ” he says.
“When we’re frustrated, our sense of thanksgiving goes out the window, so it’s hard to find things to be thankful for,” Rev. Blaufuss says. “The demands of the day and tyranny of the urgent become uppermost in our thinking; we have a restless sense of dissatisfaction.
“Thanksgiving is an exercise in stepping out of that mindset, taking pause. Thanksgiving begins with a sense of wonder, and part of that is seeing what’s around me, asking why, and seeing that the answer is part of something larger than me. Giving thanks brings a sense of humility, which is to understand one’s place in the universe.”
Being thankful for our blessings can produce a physiological response, a sense of calm, Rev. Blaufuss says.
“It’s the realization that others around me are part of the benevolence of the universe,” he says.