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It's Thanksgiving: What are you thankful for?

Local residents chime in with comments about the meaning of the holiday


People who live and work in Lake Oswego, by and large, have many things to be thankful for. For our Thanksgiving newspaper this week, we asked a number of local folks to share thoughts about what they are thankful for or special Thanksgiving memories.

Here are some of their offerings:

I am thankful for the many blessings given me by God. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, healthy, wonderful children and grandchildren, a loving and supportive wife, and good friends.

Couldn’t ask for much more than that.

Kent Studebaker, Lake Oswego mayor-elect

My favorite Thanksgiving memories are of the generations together — laughing children, my mom proudly serving the turkey with its once-a-year aroma penetrating every nook of our home, and my grandmother preparing her delicious pastries (made with lard). As we held hands encircling the table before dinner, our tradition was that every person gave honor or recognition to something non-material or to someone for whom they were thankful during the year. Today we remain thankful for those dear friends and family, now gone, who once graced our lives and our held our hands at the Thanksgiving table.

I adore fall and its flaming leaves, and ask every guest at our family Thanksgiving table to bring a leaf from their home for the table runner, symbolic of our lives as unique but also intertwined.

I am thankful for a community that comes together to celebrate the best each of us can offer whatever it may be or an open heart to receive in time of need.

Gratitude is the heart of Thanksgiving. Begin to write down 100 things for which you are grateful and it is surprising how the list will flow. My “public” list today begins with gratitude for your confidence and tremendous support in asking that I serve as a city councilor in this city we love.

I am thankful for a simple life built on faith, hope and love with prayers for health on the individual level and liberty enveloping our nation.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Karen Bowerman, Lake Oswego city councilor-elect

I’m thankful for living in Lake Oswego where so many of our citizens have such great passion for donating their time for others in our community. 

Skip O’Neill, Lake Oswego city councilor-elect

I’m always thankful for my family and our health, but this year...

For the first time ever our country elected a president who believes I deserve the right to marry the person I love. And in all four states where it was on the ballot, voters approved or upheld that right. For that, I’m thankful.

Jon Gustafson, Lake Oswego city councilor-elect

I am thankful for my wonderful family and fabulous friends. It’s a great pleasure to tend to business and family needs in our community and continually encounter the friendly faces and greetings from friends and neighborhoods. We are blessed to live in this very special place.

Mike Kehoe, Lake Oswego city councilor

In junior high school, my English teacher gave our class an assignment to each write a play about Thanksgiving. She would select the best submission and it would be performed before the whole school before we left for the holiday break. It was the end of the 1950s, I was 13 and life was pretty simple.

I wrote the “selected” play. It was based around a family whose various members of different ages all had singularly important things they each wanted to do on Thanksgiving Thursday that didn’t allow for everyone sitting down, together, to a traditional meal. The drama unfolded with various disappointments and plan changes for each family member. Of course, it ended happily with everyone showing up and giving thanks for being together, sharing a last-minute “feast” and realizing what was really important in their lives.

Probably not a memorable play for anyone else involved. Of course, I may have launched the professional career of a classmate who became a Shakespearean actor and has often performed in Ashland, but that is beside the point.

The point is that the more things change, the more things stay the same — especially around Thanksgiving. And this year, as we gather at our house with some of our kids, grandkids and longtime friends, I will be thankful for the blessings of this life we share. And while my Mom will celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time in more than 70 years without my Dad, who died in July, we will be there to support her.

Thanksgiving is not a celebration of material wealth but a focus on the community of family, friends and neighbors that we count on daily to help us through. Thanksgiving is a time to recognize the service of others who contribute to our peace, health and safety. They are serving so we can share our time together. And it is a time to be thankful for those who provide meals to those who have no one else to count on. They create a support system where poverty does not mean starvation in a country that is free.

I still believe in the values that I innocently put on paper when I was just a child. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this 2012.

Donna Jordan, Lake Oswego city councilor

Giving thanks for family, friends and freedom. I am so blessed to have a wonderful family that includes my wife, daughters and self. I am amazed every day that my friends enrich my life so much. Finally, I am proud and extremely honored to live in a country where there is a Bill of Rights and a country that always reaches out to help.

Jim White, Lake Oswego Junior High

 

I’m most thankful to the citizens of our great city for all that they do each and every day to support us, the members of their police department. Thank you!

Douglas Treat, patrol lieutenant with the Lake Oswego Police Department

I am thankful I still have my mom — who will be 90 shortly; thankful for my family — my sisters and nieces who stand by me no matter what; thankful for my friends, including all of the many wonderful people here in Lake Oswego (thank you for your support); thankful I live in Oregon where almost anywhere you are you can see green; and thankful life is full of opportunities waiting to be explored. Here’s wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season!

Alice Seeger, owner of Upper Crust Bread Co.

 

I count my blessings every day and so many of them involve Lake Oswego’s wonderful school district, its employees and families. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer right before school started. It was such a shock. I was set to have a wonderful year teaching first and second grade and suddenly my world was turned upside down.

I’m a pretty private person, but they say that the best way to fight a serious illness is to have the support of family, friends and community. It was awkward at first to open up, but the kind thoughts, delicious meals, thoughtful cards and love and care that the River Grove community showered on me was astounding.

I love teaching and I believe that having the distraction of planning lessons, thinking about how to help each child succeed and the open affection from the children made the process of chemo and surgery so much easier.

So, what am I thankful for? A profession I love, teaching in the most amazing community. Thank you.

P.S. I’m currently cancer-free and having a fantastic, fun year with my first- and second-graders!

Sandy Pate, first- and second-grade teacher at River Grove Elementary School

I am thankful that Pat Kopetski was my friend.

Marylu Perkin, “part-time employee extraordinaire” with the city of Lake Oswego

(An open letter to Lake Oswego Junior High students:)

Dear students of Lake Oswego Junior High:I am simply thankful for you! After your parents gave so incredibly generously to our first-ever auction, you turned around and gave again — digging deep in your pockets and piggy banks to donate your coins and cash to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Because you cared we are sending more than $780 to the Red Cross for its relief fund!

Because you cared, someone will receive a warm meal, medical care, a blanket, clothes, shelter or desperately needed help.

I am thankful I live and work in a community of such wonderful hearts. You remind me always that I am not just teaching you to think, but teaching you to care, to contribute to society and make the world a better place. Thank you! 

Shannon Todd, Lake Oswego Junior High teacher

 

Following my husband’s career and now finally settling in this beautiful part of the country, I am thankful that everywhere we have lived has provided unique and exciting adventures!

As I reflect on the people we have met along the way, I am reminded that people truly are united in this great country of ours, even though at times, especially during the most recent election cycle for our nation’s president, we seemed more divided than ever.

There is a common thread that keeps us tethered to each other, in good times and bad. I am grateful to live in such a country.

Thanks for everyone here at Lake Oswego High School who has made my decision to move here everything my husband and I could have hoped for. Happy holidays!

Leora D. Diana, Lake Oswego High School counseling secretary

I am so very thankful for the long and gratifying opportunity I have had to teach at six different schools in the Lake Oswego District for 34 years! I have loved being able to contribute to the lives of so many children and receive in return so much love, shared dreams and success that comes from hard work and hugely supportive families.

I am thankful that I have also been able to live in the Lake Oswego community and that my daughter was able to receive an excellent education that has enabled her to follow her dreams all the way to New York City.

I am very thankful for computer technology that enables me to talk with her daily as though she were right next door! I am filled with gratitude that I will be able to leave a legacy with both my special daughter and the hundreds of students I have had the privilege to teach.

Christie Ford, fifth-grade teacher at Hallinan Elementary School

 

I am thankful that we now have an energetic group of sixth-graders attending Lakeridge Junior High. Watching the sixth-graders still want to play at recess/lunch makes my heart smile.

They have been a welcome addition to our new junior high.

Becky Roberts, registrar at Lakeridge Junior High School

 

I am so thankful for the wonderful community I am blessed to work in, and my amazing son and husband.

Liz Crystal, Lake Oswego

I am thankful each time I witness kindness.

Dan Kumprey, math teacher and counselor at Lake Oswego High School

 

Leaves, leaves and more leaves.

From the perspective of the general citizen, these beautiful signs of the season come in all different shades of gold, red and yellow. These wonderful funnel clouds of color remind us that it’s nearly time to put the turkey in the oven and that smell of the X-mas tree is not far behind.

For the city worker, it takes on a whole new meaning. The leaves represent hours of full-time street sweeping, clogged catch basins and sore backs from walking through the parks and streets with a back-pack blower.

So as you bask in the auburn glow of fall, remember that these lovely golden flags will be all cleaned up and the city will be made tidy and new in time for the chill of the new year. Happy holidays!

Bill Heggie, Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department

I am thankful for my loving wife (and fellow Lake Oswego teacher), Molly, our son Brock, and our family and friends who we are so fortunate to spend quality time with on a regular basis.

Some of our favorite Thanksgiving memories include playing in the annual Turkey Bowl, eating too much good food, high school football playoffs, rooting for the Oregon State Beavers and the Green Bay Packers. 

A special happy Thanksgiving to our students, their families and to former students that are able to return home, welcome back. Remember who you are.  Remember what you stand for.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Ryan Durrett, business teacher at Lake Oswego High School  

When I was in high school my grandmother lived in the neighborhood. She used to host our family for Thanksgiving dinner. She was a small woman who needed a step stool in the kitchen to get the special serving dishes down from the top shelves.

The meal often ended with a family recipe for cookies grandma called “bachelor buttons.” They were served with Constant Comment tea in a collection of unique tea cups with matching saucers that had been in the family for generations.

As we sat and digested, my grandmother would entertain us with a recital of her favorite Robert Frost poems, including the lengthy and moving, “Birches.”

I remember being transfixed by the melody and insistence of her voice. She first heard Frost recite in Boston in the 1960s and had a record album of him reading. Her enthusiasm for his poetry at Thanksgiving led me to begin memorizing poems.

Today, I ask all of my students to memorize a poem in hopes that they may discover the pleasures of recitation, of speaking a poem as if it were their own. If you see one of my students this Thanksgiving, ask them to recite a poem for you. They might surprise you.

Edward Derby teaches English 12 at Lakeridge High School

I am thankful for the active and supportive Friends of the Library and the smiling Lake Oswego library patrons who so often ask “how are you” before I get a chance to ask them.

Lisa Buchholz, on-call library assistant for the city of Lake Oswego

Surrounded by family freshly stuffed with all the delights of a Thanksgiving dinner, it is easy to reflect on how very blessed we are. But a daily examination of my everyday life — even  on the most stressful days — reveals incredible richness.

Above all, I am grateful for the people in my life: a wonderful and hilarious husband; the book-loving buddies I work with; my darling students who make every day fun; the crazy triathletes I train with.

I am also thankful  for the opportunities I have in this country: I can read and study; I can carry out daily life without fear of attack; I can choose where and how I want to live my life. And, of course, I am very grateful for my health and all the fundamentals of life, which are so easy to take for granted, things as simple as clean water, which way too many people in this world live without on a daily basis. 

How I can ever feel unhappy, I don’t know. I have an amazing life. I love that Thanksgiving stops us all long enough to reflect and remember what gifts we have.

Kristy Aalberg, English teacher at Lake Oswego High School

When thinking of what I feel grateful for year after year, I often mention the (usually) gentle changes in season here in the Great Pacific Northwest, and the resulting nature’s bounty that goes with it. From the garden in our own back yard that always includes large harvests of pea pods, green beans, blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and carrots, to the annual migration cycles of the “Springers” (chinook salmon) and Dungeness crab. Folks who live here, Native Oregonians and transplants alike, may grow weary of the many dreary days each winter brings. As an Oregonian (Native Portlander) myself, I have felt enormous appreciation and respect of our fabulous seasons my entire life, and for all the natural beauty and sustenance it provides.

Thanks!

Sgt. Jay Weitman of the Lake Oswego Police Department

Thanksgiving was very exciting in my family. We lived on the coast and had an older car that was challenged a bit to make it up over the Coastal Range in Washington — the roads were steeper then and often in poor condition.

We didn’t get into the big city of Portland often, but we always made the trip for Thanksgiving.

Both my grandparents were born in Austria and our destination was their home in Southeast Portland. My mother often made us a new outfit for the holiday — she had worked at ... Jantzen before she married. She had been a sewing supervisor and made great dresses for the three of us girls and shirts for my brother.

Grandma was round and soft and smiley and Grandpa was smaller and thin and stern and would have serious talks with you sitting on his knee. He had built their home after they moved from rural Clackamas. Grandma said she didn’t want to move to town unless they had an extra lot next door for her big garden.

It always amazed me that he could build houses so well when he had never had a chance to go to school as a boy, and didn’t learn to read. He worked for someone for free after he finished his regular job and just learned how build. One of his main sources of pleasure was that he was able to provide so much good food for his family for the holidays.

They had eight children, who had each had several children of their own so there were aunts and cousins everywhere in their house. My uncles and aunts all lived nearby (in some of the houses Grandpa built) except for our family, which had moved to the coast, so we had a lot of catching up to do when we made it into Portland.

The house had a kitchen with an oak table that had been given to them as a gift on their 25th wedding anniversary and a large dining room. Children had to eat in the kitchen until they were old and well-behaved  enough to eat with the adults in the dining room. Each year I hoped I would be “moved up” to eat in the dining room, and felt I had to stay in the kitchen longer because I had two younger sisters who needed their food cut up.

Grandma was a great baker who made incredible old county breads, very fancy cookies and strudel with many, many thin layers of crust. I remember watching her stretch and stretch the dough over the kitchen table until you could almost see through it. I always looked forward to those fancy desserts, and I remember if you were slow to eat your vegetables she didn’t say anything and let you eat extra dessert instead.

Last week I went to Salem as I always do to take one of my sisters to lunch for her birthday. There in her kitchen was the maple kitchen table. It always brings back memories.

Karen Davis, coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego’s Luscher Farm

I am so thankful for the time that I have been a part of this caring Lake Oswego community. My husband has enjoyed his musical connections and my girls had the opportunity to make their way through our wonderful school system and have grown into compassionate, strong, caring women that are paying it forward in their everyday lives.

I feel very fortunate to have volunteered  in or work for the Lake Oswego School District for 20 years.

Thanks to all the staff,  loving families and amazing students I have had the opportunity to work with. I will be counting all of you in my blessings!

Patricia K. Griffith, secretary, Lakeridge Junior High School

My father just passed away last month. For this Thanksgiving, I would like to thank my co-workers at Lakeridge, especially the Delta crew for all their loving support. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Thank you so much.

Jenny Nixt, Delta program/special education assistant, Lakeridge High School

I am thankful for the Westridge Cub Scout Pack 203 who came over to my house (on the weekend of Nov. 10) and raked my leaves. It is something I just could not do myself so I was very grateful to have these boys come out and take care of it.

Karen Stewart, secretary, Westridge Elementary School

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for this community, its people and this newspaper.

This week’s issue is especially valuable to me not only because I can learn why others are thankful, but also because it includes my column on the same topic — “What I’m thankful for.”

My “Stories for Positive Aging” column runs twice a month and I regularly hear positive feedback. I’m thankful for valuable information as well as ideas about future column topics. As the new year progresses, I hope the Review (and its readers) will be equally interested when my next book, “Dusty’s War,” is published.

Most of all I’m thankful to live in this community with all of its interesting people and an excellent local newspaper that keeps me informed. Thanks to all of you.

Ardis Stevenson, author of the “Positive Aging” column in the Lake Oswego Review

In addition to my family and friends, I’m also grateful to live and work in a community that truly is “a community.” Because so many people take the time to get involved to make a difference in our community, we are all better off for it.

J. Brian Monihan, publisher of the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings and vice president of Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune in charge of advertising

 

I am thankful for turkey, stuffing and gravy.

Cliff Newell, Lake Oswego Review reporter

 

This year, and every year, I am amazed and thankful for my family — especially my grandparents.

Of course, the road hasn’t always been smooth, but I’m happy I inherited my family’s sense of humor. We’re a big bunch and we can laugh about pretty much anything.

They’ve taught me the power of a positive attitude and the rewards of working hard. Every day I wake up and hear my grandpa’s voice saying, “Never, never, never give up.” Happy Thanksgiving, have a good laugh and make something cool happen.

Nicole DeCosta, Pamplin Media Group associate editor and editor of LO

I am thankful for my dear family, those near and far, and for our many, many wonderful friends. I am thankful for those who use their creative talents to enrich our lives, be it by making artisan cheese or other foods, wine, art, music, dance, films and drama, writings, artistic furnishings  —  all the things that add spice to our lives.

Barb Randall, Lake Oswego Review reporter

  

The two F’s, family and friends, are at the top of my list of what I am thankful for. I also am appreciative of memories and the warm glow they provide when I think back to the holidays with my own daughters or, even further, back to when I was little and my parents made all the magic happen.

Of course, I would be remiss without mentioning my favorite Thanksgiving memory of all time: My two brothers, father, three grandparents and myself were seated at the dining room table, awaiting my mom’s arrival with the turkey for my dad to carve and serve (we were very traditional back then). The table was loaded with all the trappings of a beautiful holiday meal as my mom and both my grandmothers were very festive, creative and wonderful chefs.

I leaned back in my chair to check out what my mom was doing just in time to see her attempting to pull a very large cooked turkey out of the oven and onto a platter that she had balanced on the oven door.

Alas, my mom’s arm buckled under the weight of the big bird and it literally “flew” over the platter, hydroplaned on the marble tile floor in the kitchen, slid across the dining room and living room carpets (while leaving a significant brown turkey stain) and crashed into the hearth below our fireplace in the living room. Altogether the bird traveled close to 35-40 feet.

As I watched this turkey trot unfold, I got to laughing so hard that I fell out of my chair. Slightly gaining my composure, I looked into the kitchen and saw that my mom had sunk to the floor and had this amazing look of both befuddlement and amusement on her face. Our eyes met and we both crumpled into laughter.

No one else at the table was aware of what had happened beneath them; they just tried to figure out what the laughter was all about from under the dining room table (me) and from the kitchen (my mom). Before anyone had a chance to investigate, my mom took the long way around to the living room, picked up the rather forlorn-looking turkey, brought it back to the kitchen where she rinsed it off, put it on a platter with some parsley and brought it to the table for my dad to carve.

It wasn’t until the glorious meal was over that the two grandmothers noticed and asked about the long stain on the carpet. That was all my mom and I needed to lose control again in another round of laughter.

I lost my mother last December but this is one of many special memories I have of our time together.

Martin Forbes, Lake Oswego Review editor

Though we should strive toward daily gratitude, appreciating all the small things that make us smile, sometimes it is too easy to get wrapped up in all the “have tos” and “need tos” that can overwhelm us.

A few years ago, someone taught me the difference between “have to” and “get to.” It blew my mind.

I don’t have to go to work. I get to go to work because I have a college education, experience and a job.

I don’t have to pay my bills. I get to pay my bills because I have a steady source of income.

I don’t have to clean my house. I get to clean my house because I’m lucky enough to have a roof over my head.

I don’t have to eat healthfully. I get to eat healthfully because we have fresh and affordable produce that is easily accessible.

I don’t have to exercise. I get to exercise because my body is whole and healthy.

And this Thanksgiving, I get to cook a turkey, I get to pull out the China dishes, I get to share the day with those I love most and I even get to have time to soak up the little moments that make me smile.

Lori Hall, West Linn Tidings editor

I’m thankful for my iPhone, for democracy, for my friends and family and for this job!

Drew Dakessian, Lake Oswego Review reporter

I am thankful for a family that is just a phone call away. A boyfriend who believes in me, even when I do not. Three cats that snuggle me when I’m home sick from work and a new city that constantly surprises me.

Jordy Byrd, West Linn Tidings reporter 




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