We have much to be thankful for; here is my top 10

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving is always the time of year to join together with family and friends, dine on delicious food, and give thanks for what we have received.

It is also a great time to teach our children to be grateful for all the blessings God has bestowed upon us, especially ones we may take for granted.

This Thanksgiving, I have decided to compose a "Top Ten List" of things I am thankful for that often are forgotten. Though not in any particular order, I hope that each item will shed light on what I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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10. I am especially grateful for my parents, teachers and those in the community that helped me develop reading skills. I have come in contact with many people who, for a variety of reasons, have never learned to read. I cannot fathom what it would be like to not be able to read my mail or street signs and am grateful for those who taught me.

9. Unlike many of my peers, I have always enjoyed the jobs I have held throughout my adult life. Admittedly, some days are better than others, but I truly appreciate the opportunity to hold public office and thoroughly enjoy my work.

8. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to read newspapers. For that, I am especially appreciative of the media. Local newspapers can shed light on the views of the community, and as a Senator it is important for me to be in tune with what the community needs and wants.

7. One Thanksgiving when I was a teenager, my family helped move an elderly couple from an apartment complex to a smaller house. At the time, I wasn't too thrilled about helping someone move on Thanksgiving Day, but looking back I appreciate how much I learned through that experience.

As we moved them in, I witnessed what living circumstances they were faced with. Their new home had a huge hole in one of the floors, and the only cooking tool the couple had was a hot plate. My mother, who always cooked for an army, invited them to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. That day I really learned to appreciate what I had been given and to understand that many were much less fortunate that me.

6. I am especially appreciative of all the people who go beyond the call of duty. These people are the ones that give of their time all year working at food and clothing banks, tutoring children and adults, transporting seniors and veterans, keeping museums and community centers open and many other things to help those around them.

5. One of the greatest things I learned from my mother was empathy. She always considers others' feelings and is understanding of their situations, a trait that is necessary in order to do my job effectively as a legislator. I am also thankful for my mother and father-in-law, whose compassion shows through their joy in being grandparents.

4. My grandparents were some of the best history teachers I've ever had, and I am grateful for their lessons as well as the courage they showed when going through difficult circumstances. My maternal grandmother, who grew up in an orphanage, was widowed with six kids ranging from high school age to toddlers. She raised them all without public assistance and is still going strong at age 87.

3. I am fortunate to have been raised in a large family where everyone had their own unique strengths and characteristics. One of my brothers is a carpenter, another a drill tester for highways and my sister studied fashion merchandising.

You have probably guessed by now that fashion merchandising is not my thing-but it has taught me that getting along with people who are different from you and finding common ground is something that we should value and appreciate.

2. I am grateful that my two sons keep me solidly rooted in what life is all about. Their questions and priorities keep me level headed, and I always look forward to spending time with them, where I can both teach them and learn from them.

1. Finally, I am grateful to serve as State Senator for Ohio's 17th Senate District.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to work from the Statehouse, where I have learned that the citizens of Ohio, as well as those who serve the public from the Statehouse, make this state a great place to be.

Writing my top ten list has given me a great perspective on Thanksgiving, showing me all that I have to be grateful for. I encourage you to make a list of your own. From my office and from my family to yours, I wish you and yours happy Thanksgiving.

John Carey is State Senator for the 17th District. To contact him, write to Senator John A. Carey, Ohio Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or call

at (614) 466-8156.