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For what are you thankful this Thanksgiving?

The funny thing about counting your blessings is that it works. It seems to be human nature to go in funk cycles and jump on the downer express, but that cool ritual of mass gratitude — the one where we go round the table before the monster feast and speak out what we’re thankful for — really has a salubrious effect on even the most grinchful among us.

Actually, we all should speak our blessings aloud daily, instead of plopping down at the table (or in front of one of our many screens) and shoveling chow apace. After all, the so-called Law of Increase (what you think about increases) is demonstrably true.

Sometimes, it’s hard to get the blessings wheel spinning, especially when a bummer like the Paris terrorist attack happens, it seems, to the whole world. Everyone felt it and imagined what it would be like to be one of the helpless victims, crouching in that dance hall. But Parisians almost immediately affirmed their wheel was going to spin in a positive direction — and thousands went out to cafes, restaurants and bars to affirm it’s a real City of Light.

In America, we have had plenty to be grateful for: the first and longest-running democracy, a beautiful land that, more and more, takes care of itself environmentally, a nation that, however slowly, is rising to the challenge of global warming, a diverse realm that (again), however gradually, is rising to true equality for all. You’ll get arguments on all these points, but that’s another blessing — that we have and love our freedom to speak.

Then there are the smaller blessings. How we adore our smart phones and FaceBook, selfies, texting and a vast Internet of endless knowledge. We have smart cars now, that you just plug in. We are living simpler and arguably happier lives. We got rid of the evil concept of “pre-existing conditions” and have near-universal health care of some sort. Oh, and for whatever reasons (probably not all good), gasoline, according to Oregon AAA, is expected to crawl below $2 a gallon (nationally, and approaching that in Oregon)!

We asked Ashlanders what they will say at the table next Thursday when it’s their turn to voice their blessings. 

Sila Rood — I’m thankful for a whole family spending Thanksgiving together, in a time of peace. We’re flying into LA for the gathering. I’m thankful I’m healthy and we have the opportunity to help others be healthy and happy. I’m very thankful we live in a place that’s so beautiful and close to nature. 

Penny Bezanis — I’m thankful for my children and grandchildren. I’m thankful for my health and my ability to function. I’m thankful for peace on earth and good will toward men. I truly hope there is peace on earth and goodwill toward men. 

Jussara Padilha — I’m thankful for food on the table and good friends who live here. I’m thankful I’m able to contribute financially and with my energy to things I believe in. I’m thankful I can stay creative and work on illustrating children’s books, which I would like to have done by Christmas. I’ll probably cook Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter at her house. I’ve downscaled a lot and have a tiny kitchen. We’ll invite my mom and stepfather and friends. It’s a good opportunity to get together with loved ones and share a meal. I wish I had food to give to everyone. 

Ruby Whalley — I’m thankful for a lot of things — my family, my health, where we live, the natural beauty of Southern Oregon. I really feel the contrast between what I’m thankful for and what people are experiencing emotionally and politically other places, like Syria and the refugees and also the troubles in Mexico, the gangs and drugs and all that.

Thomas Gaudet — I’m thankful for being out of the South. I lived in Mississippi and I’m so thankful to be here in the West. I’m thankful for so many things, to be alive and experiencing the magic that is this world. I will spend Thanksgiving with the people who are the most important to me and let them know how much I love them.

Take the Tidings Thanksgiving poll online at dailytidings.com.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.