Janet Sheridan: Meaningful blessings, gratitude

— As I worked on my previous column about smaller blessings, others of more significance clamored for my attention: blessings deserving of sincere gratitude rather than humorous mention, blessings that wouldn’t be silenced. When I acknowledged them, words of thanks flowed easily.

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Janet Sheridan

I’m grateful for the days of autumn splendor that blessed us this year. Although interrupted by colder periods laden with long-awaited moisture, days of generous sunshine filtered through crisp air arrived with gilt-edged invitations, requesting our presence outdoors, and we complied.

Leaves of gold swirled around homeowners decorating for Halloween, crunched beneath dogs walking their owners at Loudy-Simpson Park and waited in colorful drifts for the attention of rakes, leaf blowers and children. Across town and across the county, residents looked up from outdoor activities to swivel their faces toward the warmth like sun-seeking flowers, breathe deeply of the autumn-scented air and rejoice in the season.

I experienced another major blessing in 2013 when I increased my online activity and re-introduced myself to my nieces and nephews. I had allowed these precious people to gradually withdraw from my life as they matured, moved away from my siblings’ homes, scattered across the country and became preoccupied with spouses and children of their own.

For years, I confused hearing about them from their parents with learning about them through their words, flavored by their personalities and interests.

But now, the youngsters who delighted me with their antics have returned to my life as they interact with one another and me on Facebook: teasing, supporting, agreeing, disagreeing and sharing. Occasionally, they address affectionate words and memories to me, and I feel the same rush of happiness I experienced when they were young and climbed on my lap or threw their arms around me.

Their parents, my brothers and sisters, who brought children into my life when I had none, are a major source of happiness for me. My heart hurts when I count the years my siblings and I have accumulated and realize the inevitable outcome of our having lived so many. I’m grateful that we’ve walked our long journey of joy and sorrow, success and loss, together.

And finally, I’m thankful for the community in which I live: every day those who live here reward me with smiles; the young boy walking to school who calls “Hi!” with a gap-toothed grin; the clerks and workers who glance up with a smile even at the end of a long day; the drivers who wave whether they know me or not; the parents who catch my eye when I smile at the cute actions of their little ones.

I know some of those who initiate a smile or return mine aren’t feeling well, are concerned about a child, are mourning a loved one, are feeling the pinch of our economic times or are lonely, yet they smile.

Good people live in Craig. Many of them cheerfully and generously attend fundraisers benefiting nonprofit organizations and neighbors in need. How their halos sparkle as they eat soup, crab legs or dessert, dress in diamonds and spurs, celebrate a cowboy Christmas or cheer Kiwanian cross-dressers.

Some were on the city crews who worked long hours to clear our roads and streets after branches rained upon us. Many enjoy and teach our children, knowing that, if necessary, they also will protect them. Others respond to our homes when we’re in need, rushing to help us without reservation.

All call Craig and Moffat County home, and on Thanksgiving, I gave thanks for them.

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