How do we give thanks in trying times?

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As we sit down to a table full of turkey and trimmings today, most of us will state the obvious: we’re thankful for our family, friends and any measure of good fortune or health that has blessed us over the past year. Then our Thanksgiving traditions — whatever they may be — will commence.

Some will roll their overfed bodies onto the couch to watch football. Others will head outdoors to hunt or recreate. A few will bicker over lingering wounds from the midterm elections or politics in general. For the most part, we pause to give thanks on this most grateful of days, and then go about our business as usual.

Yet beyond our own comfortable microcosms some big tragedies loom, from fires scorching California to coastal areas still reeling from the aftermath of two destructive hurricanes. And how many Americans will have an empty seat at the table this year because of the more than 300 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year?

How do we give thanks amid such tragedy? Sometimes it’s painful to look at the big picture in America, even when we know in our hearts we’re a resilient people capable of overcoming the worst disasters. We know that amid the inferno of the Camp Fire, which has killed 79 people and destroyed close to 13,000 homes, that there are countless acts of kindness, of neighbors and strangers helping one another.

The same goes for the survivors of Hurricanes Michael and Florence. It’s people helping people get through one day at a time. It’s civic organizations and church groups heading to disaster zones to help residents rebuild. It’s people opening their wallets to give to those in need. These are the times during which America’s humanity is on full display.

We see this kind of generosity on a daily basis in the Flathead Valley. Food banks are buzzing with volunteers who are doing their best to see that no one goes hungry today. Annual holiday gift drives for those less fortunate are ramping up. The giving season is about to hit full stride.

This is how we make a difference, and how we can show our gratitude for the gift of living in this special place, and for all we’ve been given. On Thanksgiving Day 2018, we are thankful for every kind soul who goes the extra mile to make sure someone is fed or clothed or sheltered. They’re truly the heart and soul of our communities and our country.

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