On the bulletin board behind my school desk, I have a found note of wishes. Among them is this one: “I wish I’d been more grateful.”
This little message is a daily reminder to avoid obsessing on what problems come my way, to recognize the simple pleasures all around me, and to appreciate the many blessings that visit me each day.
At this time of year, while I sometimes complain about the cold or the daily complications of school, or a hundred other distractions that might annoy, I think it is better to think about what makes me thankful.
There is of course much we can all be thankful for now as well as the year round.
In this part of Northern Michigan, we can certainly appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us daily, the ever-changing colors of the hills and valleys, the fast moving water of our many streams and rivers, and the abundance of wildlife that share the region.
We therefore can be thankful for organizations such as the Little Traverse Conservancy, which helps to ensure the open spaces and green spaces we appreciate from Charlevoix County in the south to Chippewa County in the north, and all sorts of places in between.
My wife, my dogs, and I particularly appreciate the Offield Preserve between Petoskey and Harbor Springs, where we find trails that take us far enough away from the everyday to appreciate the natural surroundings that punctuate our home.
We can also appreciate the work done by Tip of the Mitt Watershed, which advocates for and works to keep all our fresh water safe. Surrounded by so much water, whether the lakes or the many rivers, we can all be thankful for such advocacy.
When we’re feeling a bit more social, we can be thankful for cultural opportunities, like those offered by the Crooked Tree Arts Center. Whether it’s the casual nature of the Swirl, with plenty of tasty tidbits and satisfying drinks, or the New Years celebration that brings out the entire town of Petoskey and more. We can be thankful to Crooked Tree too for all its programs fostering artistic participation, such as the many workshops, as well as for their Artisan and Farmers Markets, that feature locally sourced foods and wonderful treasures.
As a reader, I’m also particularly thankful for, as others should be too, not only the area’s great independent bookstores, but the wonderful public libraries, from Charlevoix and Boyne City to Harbor Springs and Alanson. With a host of youth programs, our libraries foster an appreciation for reading in young people, and also support local writers, both reasons to be thankful for these historic civic institutions.
There are a good many reasons to feel thanks this time of year, as we also appreciate the warmth and laughter of friends and family, recognizing through it all how fortunate we are to enjoy these natural and social opportunities just outside our backdoors.