Proud To Be An American

I am grateful that I was born in the United States of America because my Polish Grandparents and my Great-Great Grandparents immigrated from Holland. I am here because they took the risk to come to a new country. This week is not only the week we vote but also the week we honor Veterans. My husband is a Veteran of the Viet Nam war. This week I will honor Veterans each day in some way on my Author Page and also on my personal page and my blog Sprinkled Notes. So Veterans, This week

is for you.

My column this week in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier-Sentinel

This past week my husband and I visited the VA Clinic in Minneapolis. Since the elections are tomorrow and this is also the week we celebrate our Veterans it might be fitting to write about our experience with the Veterans Administration and the Clinics and healthcare.

We have all heard the horrifying stories of the terrible healthcare and experiences people have had with the VA. But I am here to tell you our experience, and they are all positive experiences.

My husband didn’t get hooked up with the VA System until somewhere in the last ten years. We had an excellent Veterans Administration Officer both in Fairmont and Blue Earth that got the ball rolling for us. It didn’t take long, and my husband was in the system, and the benefits were available to him. He is a Viet Nam Veteran, and it had been hard for him to ask for help because of the stigma of the war. It was something he never talked about.

He was a patient at the VA Clinic in Mankato and then transferred to the Albert Lea VA Clinic when it opened because it was closer to home. We have always been amazed at the care of both places, the ease of getting an appointment and the excellent staff at both clinics.

The Veteran’s Clinic and Hospital in Minneapolis are amazing. They make it very easy to navigate and find your way around with all the volunteers they have to help those Veterans who come though their doors.

We had an appointment for a scan at 10:45. We were early and we checked in. We walked out of the doors of the Clinic at 10:46. And they had told us they were behind schedule. That is another thing we have found. If he has an appointment the wait is longer to get a table in a restaurant than it is to see the Doctor. This has been our experience.

This time at the Minneapolis Clinic I met another friend. Her husband too was there for a scan. I always meet friendly and interesting people on my visits there.  I learned about her family and she learned about mine. We shared experiences and we exchanged names and business cards to keep in touch. I suspect many other people’s lives touch at these facilities because they have a bond of a Veteran.

It is awe inspiring to see so many Veterans in one place, different ages and in different situations health wise. These men and women served our country. These men and women fought for our freedom. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect. These men and women all have lasting effects for their dedication to making our lives better.

The staff at these Veteran’s facilities also deserve our thanks and respect. They work day after day to make the lives of our Veterans better and also the lives of the families of those Veterans.

Does the system have flaws, of course, it does because it is run by human beings and we are a flawed creation. The media spends a great deal of time focusing on those flaws  but I would guess there are more heart and success stories than there are horror stories. We need to focus on the good these facilities, built for our Veterans, do for all of those involved.

 

It is Veteran’s Day on November 11. Thank a Veteran. Thank those also who work to serve Veterans.  Freedom isn’t free and freedom wasn’t meant to be abused. A Veteran protects and serves so those rights can be preserved.

 

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans or the family. It’s just starting —Karl Marlantes

Thankful 365 Days Of The Year

Grandpa thanksgivingSometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food or the sound of a loved one’s voice.      — Joseph B. Wirthlin

There is always something to be grateful for even in the darkest of times. We may have to reach deep down into our soul to find it amidst the turmoil in our life, but when we do grasp it and hold onto it and keep it close, that glimmer of gratitude helps us get through our days.

I must admit I didn’t quite get it when many years ago Oprah encouraged everyone to start a gratitude journal. But, because Oprah said, I bought a gratitude journal and recorded the things I was grateful for every morning before I left my house to go to work. I would be lying to say it wasn’t a challenge to sit down each morning and take the time to be grateful. I found when I did my days hummed along a little better and my moods were more optimistic.

Through the challenges of life I would put aside my gratitude journal only to return to it months later or maybe a year later. I could look back through my gratitude journey and see where I had been. Off and on through the years I have kept a journal, but during the struggles and the dark times of my life it was harder to write so I would just grasp at words and things that I could find to be thankful for. And some days when I would sink into the abyss of life and busyness I could not find that tiny glimmer. When that happened I would pick up my journal and be reminded that I did have things in my life to be grateful for.

These days, since I don’t leave my house to go to work, I find it easier to start my morning with prayer and gratitude. I find if I miss a morning my day doesn’t always feel complete. I find also it is easier to keep it up because I have friends who I trade gratitude thoughts with each night through messaging, and I also have many friends who share their grateful moments online. It is easier to be grateful and have an optimistic attitude when you hang out with optimistic people. Gratitude changes lives.

This is the week we remember to be thankful. On Thanksgiving we give thanks for all we have.

This year has been a challenging year. There have been losses in our life of family, my brother-in-law Evan and friends. For a few months, funerals seemed to be the order of the week. Loss isn’t always about death. Loss can be health, divorce, friends moving, jobs lost, a way of life diminishing. Holidays can be challenging because of the loss that has happened in our lives throughout the year.

Our Thanksgiving tables may look different because of loved ones who no longer share our holiday because of death, divorce, distance. And on the day we are supposed to be thankful and excited about the holiday, we can’t help but mourn those who are not at our table. Families change, and the change is thought about as we sit down to be thankful for all we have.

My family is no different. We won’t all be here this Thanksgiving. I think back to my childhood and still miss my mother, father, grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins. Some of my family will be celebrating elsewhere, and others who were here in the past will not be at my Thanksgiving table again because of life and relationship changes.

I used to have a hard time on holidays because of the changes, and I would ruin my Thanksgiving or Christmas by being sad. I chose to not do that anymore. Instead, I chose to be grateful and thankful for having these people in my life for whatever time I did.

I am grateful for those who will be here. I am grateful because I had holidays that I shared in the past with my family and my husband’s family. I am thankful for those people who were members of our family in the past. They will always be cherished. I am grateful for friends who have dined at my table.

Lives change, but this Thanksgiving I am grateful for what has been in the past and what will be in the future. I am grateful to have celebrated Thanksgivings past and present with those who have shared our lives.

In this topsy-turvy world I am grateful to have 365 days a year, not just Thanksgiving to be thankful for something big or small that makes our journey a little easier.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Help Me Write My Thanksgiving Column for Something About Nothing

Thankful by Nakeva

Thankful by Nakeva (Photo credit: Nakeva)

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I miss summer. Yes, those lazy, hazy days of summer are gone and, instead, we are rolling out the not lazy, hazy, crazy days of holidays.

We’ll sing of mistletoe and cheer. We will be making our list and checking it twice and, really, it doesn’t matter if the kids are naughty or nice, Grandma will buy them something anyway.

The real holiday frenzy started in some stores mid-summer, especially craft stores so all the crafters could buy their materials and craft like crazy to be done for Christmas. The other stores got into the act right around Labor Day or sooner. I think they were hoping to tempt me into buying more decorations before I looked at what I already had stored in the basement.

Many Black Friday sales have begun before Black Friday and Black Friday, on occasion, seems to be every day. We are tricked into believing that the sale will only happen once. For some unexplainable reason we believe the hype so we wait in long lines to get that special item that is important, such as the big-screen television.

Here in Minnesota it is better if we get snow so everyone feels it really is Christmas. Do you suppose the retailers in Minnesota put in a request for early snow so we will get the Christmas fever early? We are excited about Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving?

On Facebook, I have noticed many of my friends are listing something they are thankful for every day. They have the gratitude attitude.

Churches haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. They are getting ready for Thanksgiving services although in these modern times, many services are in the evening before Thanksgiving Day because people have things to do on Thanksgiving and are too busy to go to services.

Food shelves haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. They know there are many hungry people out there who won’t have a Thanksgiving meal without the food shelves.

Local organizations haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. Many are gearing up to provide a free Thanksgiving meal so those that are alone, homeless or without the means for a meal will have a place to go.

Stores are gearing up to be open early for Thanksgiving Deals. They haven’t forgotten Thanksgiving and are trying to make it one of the biggest shopping experiences of the season. We can’t blame them. If we as consumers didn’t give up our family Thanksgiving to shop they wouldn’t open. It seems more important for us to shop rather than spend family time and rest and relax the entire Thanksgiving Day. I have a feeling that the small mom-and-pop shops will respect the Thanksgiving family tradition and wait until Friday to reopen.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade planners haven’t forgot about Thanksgiving. Last I heard the parades were still on. Football seems to be a Thanksgiving tradition. The entire family can gather around the television to watch their games before they fall asleep on the couch from eating all that turkey that contains tryptophan.

The holidays are anything but lazy. They are crazy. They are as crazy as we make them. What we do with Thanksgiving and Christmas determines where our priorities lie. It is different for each person and each family.

My family still celebrates Thanksgiving together. We have a meal. We play games. We watch movies, and we eat. We are blessed enough to have food to put on the table and to be able to spend time together. I feel especially blessed this year. I might have two working bathrooms. I don’t have to pull in an outhouse for the grandchildren.

This is not Thanksgiving week. Look around you each day and see the snippets of Thanksgiving in the preparation of the people you meet. Take the time to contemplate what you are grateful for and what you can do to honor the holiday.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? Has it been more about Christmas? Or has it been about being thankful for the blessings you have received this year.

I would appreciate it if you would email me this week at thecolumn@becomm.net and let me know if you feel the blessings of the past year. I would like my column next week to be full of statements about thankfulness and blessings for Thanksgiving from many people. I would like you to write the column with those blessings. If you want me to use your name, I will. If you don’t I won’t. I hope to hear from you.

Perhaps something you share will reach out and touch another person and remind them of what they have to be thankful for.

“Even though we’re a week and a half away from Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” — Richard Roeper