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My favorite time of year highlights life’s bounties

Well, Thanksgiving is over; family came and went.

In our blended family, there are many requests for family get togethers, so we had everyone over the weekend before Thanksgiving’s official date. Eight adults and seven “children” were at the big house on Jackson Avenue. All the bedrooms were filled, and we set up air mattresses in the rec room and office. The house was full of noise, as I remember it growing up but have not been able to experience in quite some time.

It felt good to be Paw-Paw.

Linda’s mother passed earlier in the year, so this was our first Thanksgiving Day with just the two of us. We enjoyed having the day to ourselves, watching old TV shows, doing a little work around the house and just appreciating each other. I did not watch my beloved Saints go down to defeat; I just wanted to appreciate being alone with Linda.

That evening, with the TV on, fireplace burning, we were sitting on the love seat watching TikTok videos and sending them to each other. I’d hear Linda laughing out loud, and I knew there was another coming my way!

That made me miss the family sing-a-longs I had planned for the family Thanksgiving celebration that got pushed aside because of the presses of time.

The presses of time, the urgent need to defend freedom and the need to protect the American way of life require many to miss time with family. I did a hitch in the Army – Big Red One, Fort Riley, Kansas. In my three-plus years stationed at Fort Riley, I was on training exercises for a total of about 12 months – that’s two REFORGERS, one trip to the National Training Center and countless field training exercises in between. I was fortunate there were no hot wars at the time.

I was a cold war warrior, a chairborne ranger. I was a personnel clerk in a medical battalion. I was Radar O’Reilly.

I think about my daughter-in-law, Marine during the Gulf War. I think about my son-in-law, deployed to Afghanistan. She has the mental anguish of war; he has physical and mental scars of war.

I think of my oldest brother in Vietnam. He finally succumbed to the mental tortures of war some 20 years after returning. Two other brothers who served in Vietnam are dealing with that torture better.

Mom and Dad served in World War II; Dad’s brothers served as well. Linda’s dad also served in WWII. Mom’s brother fought in Korea. Mom’s dad was in WWI. Linda’s ancestors were in the Army of Virginia and spent time as POWs in Camp Drake, Illinois.

We can trace military service back through the civil war and to the revolutionary war.

Thinking of the sacrifices made by our family, and many other families, to serve and protect America and its way of life make me appreciate this favorite time of year. We can continue that tradition by the daily choices we make in our lives.

We can choose from local providers or external ones. Shopping close to home might be a little more expensive than ordering online or going to the big box stores; however, we should look at the consequences of not supporting local businesses.

I remember during one of Winn Dixie’s rounds of closings, the folks in Greenville were bemoaning the loss of their WD. A campaign was mounted to try to convince WD to remain open, but it was too little too late.

Local businesses employ local folks and generate local profits and investments. I was pleasantly surprised to find the number and quality of local businesses here. I would encourage everyone to patronize these businesses. To preserve our vibrant life here in Franklin County, we must support our local businesses.