Counting our blessings

This time of the year seems to come around faster than it did when I was young. The wind feels a little brisker and the air itself is colder and unsettled. But, as time passes so do the things that are less important. With the turning of the pages of the calendar life seems to take on new meanings and memories become sweeter, our loved ones become more precious and each day can bring new joys. It is for these things that I am forever thankful.

Whether we are stuffing the turkey or stuffing ourselves with turkey this Thanksgiving Day, this is truly a time for giving thanks and for giving to others who are less fortunate.

We, here in the city of Dunkirk, are soon to be given the opportunity to show our true spirits of giving toward others this holiday. As those from the hurricane ravaged island of Puerto Rico begin to relocate to our little city along the shores of Lake Erie, we are in a unique position; as individuals we can be welcoming or not.

I am reminded of the stories from the history books telling of how the pilgrims came to Plymouth and shared the first Thanksgiving feast with the Wampanoag Indians of what is reported to have been waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. We have seen pictures of two very different groups of people sharing in fellowship with one another. We are not told of one group discounting the other because of their appearance, the manner in which they spoke, or even the differences in their cultures. I am certain some had suffered loss, some were weary and some were even a little apprehensive. But even at that time and place, there must have been some sense of equality and a certain amount of anxiety and gratitude. I wonder what our country would be like today had the Indians not been willing to share, or had the Pilgrims been hostile toward them. The giving of thanks and thankful giving were happening back in 1621 because of a willingness to give of what they had and of themselves.

As we prepare to celebrate this most American tradition of traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for that turkey drumstick, a big piece of pumpkin pie and football, will we remember to be thankful? Will we be ready to share of the bounty that has become a normal way of life for many of us, while others are lined up at the soup kitchens? Will we leave the dishes on the dinner table while we join the crowds for that special discounted item at Walmart or Macy’s? Will we wake up Friday morning and see it as just another day? Or, will we look for a way to extend that spirit of thankfulness and giving of ourselves to others?

It is not my suggestion that we shouldn’t enjoy all that God has given us; and we shouldn’t feel guilty for what we have. It is, however, my belief that there are ways to share of ourselves, even if we can’t share monetarily. Is there an extra blanket, a pair of gloves, a few cans of vegetables or an hour out of our day that we can give for the benefit of someone in need? Can we, as individuals, as a citizen of this city do something to help make life better for someone else? If the answer is yes, then we owe it to ourselves to do so. This is a time for thanks, but it is also a time for giving.

As I think back over the life that I have lived, and the joys and memories of those I have loved and who have loved me I know that I have been blessed, and I wish the same for each of you. From our home to yours, Sam says woof, and I wish you the most blessed Thanksgiving Day.

I will end with a quote from W.J. Cameron, “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to