Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


No way to count all the blessings

It’s Thanksgiving week, and so I ask myself what I have to say about the topic of being thankful.
I think back to a high school writing class I taught for a decade or more. It was titled “Extreme Nonfiction.” The idea behind the class was a response to student claims that “We could write a good paper if you’d just give us a good topic.”
In the class, we would spend two to three weeks reading nonfiction works about an “extreme” topic, then students were assigned a paper.
In honor of Labor Day, the first topic was “labor.”
Early in the course, I would spend two days providing a summary of how human “civilization” evolved. Based on authoritative sources, I told students that we humans survived as hunters and gatherers for many centuries before we developed the practice of farming, at which point we could begin to build stable communities and begin trading with one another to meet our needs.
I brought in a (small) piece of raw wool and discussed what it took to acquire wool like that and make it into clothing. There was raising, feeding and protecting the sheep. There was shearing the sheep using a metal tool which had to be fabricated by a specialist. There was washing the wool, combing the wool, spinning it into yarn and then weaving it on a loom, then finally shaping it into something that could be worn. With all of that labor taken into account, we reached the conclusion that a single, simple tunic cost in time and labor what might equate to thousands of dollars in modern society.
Thinking about the humans who lived before us, we members of modern technological society have no business being anything but euphoric about the ease and comfort with which we live, About the reliability of our food delivery systems. About the safety and good health we are privileged to enjoy.
As I think of gratitude, though, I also think of the magnificent people I have gotten to know thanks to my job as a reporter. I think of Helen Foster, whom I interviewed a couple of days before she turned 102. I think of Sandy Daniel who celebrated the fortieth anniversary of receiving a kidney transplant and expressed her gratitude for the renewed life and opportunities it gave her. I think of the Honor Guard, Waseca area veterans who “fall out” to the funerals of their military brothers no matter what the weather. I think of the SMART bus drivers who love their jobs because they are able to help others. I think of Chasity Marquette who has taken her kindness and goodwill to what might be called a professional level by learning to care for injured and orphaned animals. I think of the board and employees of the Waseca Area food shelf, who were so excited about building a better facility that they went ahead and built it knowing they would need to be creative and determined to find a way to pay for the construction. I think of the planners and volunteers for the Bluejay Blast who used their energy and creativity to find ways to raise money while also helping children build community. I think of the folks at the Waseca History Center who find ways to remind us that our present is built on the work and accomplishments of people in our past. I think of the Friends of the Library, who want to see the benefits of reading, communication, and community continue to benefit Wasecans for decades to come. I think of Patty Wetterling, who has found some level of peace after decades of anxiety. And the list could go on…
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for you: the people whose efforts, goodwill, honesty, and sincerity make it a privilege to tell your stories. I will toast you all as I enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family.


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