Opinion: We have a lot to be thankful for in this country

People are always complaining – and understandably so – about where we live, but in this season of gratitude and thankfulness we should also take time to appreciate how great it is that we live where we do. So, let’s celebrate it.
I am thankful that I live in a country that cares about election results and voting. A lot of us are currently in the “sick of politics” mode especially right after an election, but in order to be sick of something you need to have been knee deep in it to begin with.
And it’s good that so many people were engaged in this most recent election, because the alternative is complete apathy. Apathy leads to unaccountability which leads to corruption which if further unchecked eventually leads to tyranny. Be thankful to be able to be sick of politics right now.
I am thankful to live in the state of Illinois. Yes, you read that right. We all know there are plenty of things to complain about here in the Land O’ Lincoln – the property taxes, the (now) complete one-party rule, the gargantuan state debt, the gargantuan government pension problem, the out-migration… ok, I’ll stop I know, this was this was supposed to be a “be thankful,” column.
We live in the heart of America and the heart of farm belt. Our farms don’t just feed our local and state economies, but they feed the world, and we should all be proud of that. We also have access to a world class cities only short drives away with every sort of museum and zoo and arboretum and sports stadium you can think of, not to mention sweet rustic getaways like Lake Geneva and Galena.
I am thankful and proud to live in a small American town. When I go to the store or to a local restaurant I run into people I know there, and they know me. We each know what’s going on in each other’s lives, not just because of Facebook but because we have past interactions and relationships and experiences together.
We care about each other in some capacity even though we’re not related. We are all pulling for each other because we have a sense of pride in the community, and we all want each other to succeed. You don’t get that everywhere, and I have to remind myself to appreciate that.
I am thankful I live in a place that isn’t dealing with hurricanes or wildfires right now. Yes, we have our share of weather related catastrophes (tornadoes and flooding to name a few) and snow can be somewhat of an annoyance of course, but we never have to worry about our woodlands burning down on a massive scale like what they’re dealing with right now in California. We also never have to worry about powerful hurricane devastating entire communities and cities in the blink of an eye.
Speaking of weather, I am thankful I get to regularly experience what the Danish call “hygge.” We don’t have an English word for it but it’s that sense of coziness and warmth that contrasts with the miserable weather outside you can see through the window.
Logs burning in the fireplace, the smell of cookies baking, you’re inside and warm and safe and happy, and it’s cold and gray and blustery outside. Areas without major seasonal changes don’t get to experience hygge, but we certainly do. You live here too, you know what I’m talking about.
Thanksgiving is often used to appreciate the people in our lives but it’s important to sometimes thank God for where we live. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Michael Koolidge lives in Rochelle and hosts the regionally syndicated radio program The Michael Koolidge Show (www.koolidge.com) heard daily on various radio stations statewide, including Rockford’s 1440 WROK from 9 to 11 a.m. live every weekday morning.

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