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The Stokes Report: Let's Be Thankful

Thanksgiving Day and helping others.

This week we celebrate one of the greatest holidays on the American calendar: Thanksgiving. It is a time to reflect on the many areas of life for which we are thankful. On Thursday we all gather with friends and family to eat great food, watch a little football, and celebrate the blessings we have in our lives. However, the holiday we call “Thanksgiving” has changed over the years and really has been diminished.  

Remember when the expression “home for the holidays” meant Thanksgiving as well as Christmas? Back then, themes of bounty and gratitude were common at school, on TV, and in shop windows, which exhibited fall displays—Pilgrims, even!—from November 1st until the leftover turkey was in the fridge.  

No longer. Halloween, now rivaling Christmas in sales and decorating fervor, takes over store shelves well before kids go back to school. In addition, by the time October’s page is torn from the calendar, Yuletide merchandise has already replaced the tricks and treats. Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?  

A sudden disappearance might have spawned protests, but instead the holiday has been fading gradually from national awareness. This year, a local store didn’t even stock autumn napkins. Moreover, the country’s most popular procession, once known as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, is named for the department store sponsoring it. If there is no sponsor, the world would stop spinning.  

The culture may want you to think Thanksgiving has been demoted to just another day out of work or a kickoff to the spending season, but don’t fall for it. Thanksgiving Day is the heartbeat of America. Where “Independence Day” celebrates our freedom, Thanksgiving Day celebrates how rewarding that freedom is and how we have all been so richly blessed.  

As I think about what I am thankful for, I have to first thank God for my wife, Dawn. She has made life so great for me and our children, and is a wonderful grandmother to Jules, Izzy and Jaden.  

Along that line, I am thankful for my children. Angela, Greg Junior, and Meagan bring to my life great joy, with a few challenges… but I am blessed by all three of them.  

Then I am thankful for the good people of Cornerstone Church (www.cornerstonechurch-ct.org). It has been my privilege to be their Pastor for over ten years. We have been growing together as we serve our community. This past weekend our members were at local grocery stores raising money and collecting food for local food shelves and kitchens. I am very proud of the work they did and continue to do.  

Now on to the reason I write this column. I am very thankful to be a resident of the great Town of Enfield. Coming from the suburbs of Detroit, I have grown to appreciate the close-knit community we all share.  

Every year I get excited as the seasons change, knowing that in each season Enfield offers some type of community event to draw us all together. In the summer we have the 4th of July Celebration; the fall brings many school events on the Town Green like the children’s pumpkin displays in October.   '

I also am happy to be included in the political workings of Enfield. Over the last twenty years I have either assisted someone else’s campaign or sought office myself. These campaigns can become heated at times, but they never boil over to the point of ruining friendships. Campaigning should be political, not personal. I have gained many friends on the both sides of the aisle. When the campaign ends, the love and support for our community picks up.  

Now, this season of Thanksgiving follows one of the worst storms in Connecticut’s history. For the past couple of weeks we have been cleaning up debris, making repairs on our homes, and attempting to get back to normal.   There is one of our town non-profits that has suffered due to the storm. Usually by this time in November, the Enfield Food Shelf is well on its way to attaining the 500 turkeys they need to provide holiday dinners for those in need. As I write this article Friday afternoon, they are short 485 turkeys.  

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I ask that everyone purchase a couple extra turkeys and bring them to the Enfield Food Shelf at 96 Alden Avenue in Enfield. The time is short and the need is great. Together we can help others as they face difficult times. To make getting a turkey easy this year, Shop Rite in Enfield allows everyone to purchase a turkey certificate for just ten dollars. They will then deliver turkeys to the food shelf in time for Thanksgiving. The best part is that for every turkey we buy, they will match it with one their own. Thank you to the Miller family and employees at Shop Rite.  

Last, I encourage people reading this column to share in the comment section what you are thankful for. There is nothing more refreshing than reading about what others have been blessed with. You may be thankful for your family, your job, or simply another day of life.  

So on that note I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Remember, a thankful heart is a healthy heart.

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