Opinion: Giving thanks for family

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Commentary by Ward Degler

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving had a special protocol. Mom always baked a turkey, which Dad stuffed with chestnut dressing. During the time we lived in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, we also had cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries Dad had scooped from a wild and mostly frozen bog he had found in the woods.

When we sat down at the table and before we ate, each one of us had to say what we were thankful for. I usually started by announcing how happy I was we didn’t have school the next day. After that I, muttered something about having enough to eat, good clothes to wear and a warm bed to sleep in. We were just coming out of the Great Depression, and we knew folks that had none of these things.

I’m still thankful for all of these things, of course, but my deepest thanks now are that this coming Saturday I will have been married to the most remarkable woman I have ever known for 39 years.

I came into our relationship with a lot of personal baggage. She welcomed me, anyway. I was confused about my faith and religion in general. She patiently led me on a path that restored my faith in God. And ever since, she has been by my side through mostly happy days. And the days that weren’t happy we shared our grief.

I’m also thankful that my wife’s children immediately accepted me. I don’t think they’ve regretted it too often since then.

We actually put our marriage to the test immediately. The day after our short honeymoon, my daughter decided to visit. She took over the kitchen and baked bread. She said all newlyweds needed homemade bread. Obviously, she knew what she was doing in the bakery department. But, regrettably, that didn’t include cleaning up the mess. There was flour everywhere and every pot and pan we owned was piled in the sink.

We recovered from that, of course, and went on to slog through 39 years. All things considered, they’ve been extremely good years.

One more thing I am thankful for. She has agreed to give it another 39 years. Maybe it will turn out OK, after all.

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