You may feel challenged this Thanksgiving to take a deep breath and reflect. We have been through unsettling times and shifts in the national and regional landscape. Each one of us has been exposed to endless and speculative chatter about the future. Uncertainty induces edginess.

Serve yourself an antidote, and that doesn’t mean just an extra helping of stuffing.

On a big scale, feel good about what is still possible in this country. We retain the utter freedom to speak as we wish, to state without restraint our opinions. The just-finished election proved that. Be angry, if you will, or shake your head over those opinions but be grateful they are there. At other places on the globe, sharing a stark opinion can bring a knock on the door or worse.

Be thankful you get a say in who runs your country, county, and city. You can vote any way you want, in secrecy and with confidence. No one puts a gun to your temple as you mark your ballot. And be thankful that your vote does count. Just ask the people in Jordan Valley, where local races may be decided by a single vote.

Treasure and safeguard those freedoms. They will be what keeps the U.S. strong, no matter the politics of the moment.

You also have another freedom – the freedom to help your neighbor any way you wish. You can choose to help an impoverished child with a book or a bike. You can choose to help a shut-in senior with a small gift or even a visit. You can help an immigrant family with a welcome and friendship.

This freedom to help can strengthen our challenged community. As you sit with family and friends, be thankful for what you and yours have and have achieved. Then vow to help those in your community who are in need.

Ponder the effect if just 100 good souls in Malheur County step forward in new ways to help another 100 weary souls. Next year, those 100 may then join in helping yet another 100. That would be something you could truly feel thankful about. – LZEDI