Giving thanks

Every day when my fingers touch my keyboard, I thank my lucky stars. Iíve always loved to write, but never truly dared to dream of a day when Iíd make a living by stringing one word after the next. Yet here I am, clack clack clacking away. Granted, the paycheck I get isnít large by anyoneís standards. But itís a paycheck, nonetheless. And I earn it by doing what I love most. Thatís definitely something to be thankful for.

There have been tough times, to be sure, in these last 12 months. But it is the things in which we find joy, and which give us hope, which get us through those dark hours. Despite the ups and downs, or maybe because of them, I find I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It is often in the most challenging times, when peopleís true colors are revealed. This year, I discovered how truly remarkable my family is. Itís hard to believe that Saturday it will be two months since we lost my Uncle Rich after a long, difficult battle with cancer. His passing left a tremendous void in my life, and all those who had the privilege of knowing him. Not a day goes by that I donít think of him, and those he left behind - my Aunt Maureen, my cousin Barbara, my cousin Richie and his wife Dee and their beautiful family. I know he lives on in all of us who loved him. And considering the sheer numbers in the combined Farrell and Lopresti clans, I assure you thatís impressive.

Uncle Richís death isnít the first our family has endured by any means, and, as such is the nature of life, his surely wonít be the last. But both in the months leading up to his final breath, and in the time since, I have realized the true beauty of being part of such a large family. Each individual has something unique to offer, and gives it willingly. Together, we are the rock which can weather any storm. I am so thankful for them all.

I am blessed, too, with the two most amazing parents on this planet. They have taught me so much about life and love, and my truest wish in life is to make them proud. I cherish every day I get to spend with them.

Iím thankful that my brother Ken and his family are with us this Thanksgiving. (And the freezer is now fully stocked with venison as a result. Yum.)

My sister Trish, brother Dennis and their respective families werenít able to make it this year, but theyíll be gracing us with their presence in time for Christmas, so I have that to be thankful for, too.

Our family motto has always been ďthe more the merrier,Ē and thatís been true this past year. Weíve had a steady stream of guests at ďThe Farm,Ē which is what my momís family always calls our place. It reminds me of when I was little, and our house was always full of aunts, uncles and far too many cousins to count.

I am thankful, too, for my wonderful friends. We laugh together, cry together, celebrate together, vent together, play together and so much more. Former classmates, college buddies, co-workers, readers - however our paths first crossed hardly matters. By doing so, you have made my world richer, brighter and more meaningful than it could ever have been without you. Thank you, all of you, for being a part of my life.

One of the perks of my job, are the amazing people I get to meet every day, many of which I may have never had the opportunity to become acquainted with under other circumstances. They have opened my eyes, and my world, to so many new things.

Nothing, though, has broadened my understanding and appreciation for the corner of the world we call home than Leadership Chenango. It was an honor and a privilege to be selected as a member of the Class of 2010. There is no way I can sum up all that I gained from the experience, and from the classmates who joined me on this journey. You know who you are, and I love each and every one of you. A special thanks to our lovely facilitator, Judie Wright, for her compassion and dedication to this program.

So many of us go through life taking far too much for granted. But I know that today, before I dig into the amazing feast Iím looking forward to helping my mother prepare, Iím going to take a moment to count my blessings. I hope you will do the same.

May the holidays find you happy, safe, healthy and surrounded by those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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