Thanksgiving Gratitude

Dear Gettysburg Connection Readers. Our reporters John Messeder and Leon Reed have taken a moment during this Thanksgiving week to write about the many ways they are thankful. I have joined in with a few thoughts of my own. Would you take a moment to do the same? Please send your message of gratitude to or add it as a comment below. Thanks and happy holidays.

On Being Thankful, by John Messeder

brown wooden board

“Here we go again,” Granddaughter Kass said one Thanksgiving mealtime as I prepared to “say Grace.” She knew I didn’t normally subscribe to the pre-formatted version of my childhood:

“Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, amen.”

Past are the days when Mr. and Mrs. and Four Little Messeders sat every evening at the dinner table. This branch of the family now sits mostly in the living room and watches TV while we eat. On the other hand, now there are only two of us – except for Thanksgiving and the occasional visit from one or two of the offspring.

When those opportunities do arise, we sit around the large table, and on special occasions, such as this one, I tend to ramble a bit about a few of those things for which I am most grateful.

I had the privilege of helping raise two babies to become pretty OK adults. There were times when we joked that one of them, or his parents, might not live to see his next birthday. He and we did, and his three young’uns – my first three grandchildren, have turned out very well, indeed.

The other became a teacher – a calling second only to parenthood. Her children are the thousands of middle schoolers to whom she helps pass on the tribal lore.

I sit at the table beside a special lady who, after more than 20 years, still allows me to sleep indoors when it rains.

There is the aforementioned slightly disrespectful granddaughter, who turned two the day her grandma and I went on our first date. She’s 20-something now, grown into a fine partner for the young man she has attracted to our menagerie.

I’m thankful I can enjoy walking barefoot in the snow rather than being forced by lack of a pair of shoes.

I’m thankful that I live where I can travel freely in relative safety, where there is no roadblock at the state line asking for, “Your papers, please.”

I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to visit other cultures, experience that all of us bleed red when we’re cut, and wish at the end of a day for a relaxing beverage and someone warm with whom to share it.

I’m thankful I live in a nation which, for all its foibles, is an envied destination for millions of people who would happily live here with at least a chance to provide their children with freedoms and opportunities we take for granted.

I’m thankful for so many of my brothers and sisters who have volunteered to serve on distant battlefields so that I may stay home and enjoy turkey dinner about which they can only fantasize.

I’m thankful for medical providers who chase away the cancer, help us through heart attacks, and generally extend our tenure on the planet.

I’m thankful for readers who continue to think my mental meanderings are worth reading, even though some readers occasionally disagree with what I have set down.

I remind myself of these things from time to time, and especially on this holiday, remind myself not to feel too sorry for me when things don’t go as I’d like.

I don’t plan to leave any time soon, but my time here has not been, I hope, and barring a few errors, in vain. I hope you all have your own list to ponder before the time arrives to give gifts to all those who are part of your own infinite memory-beam of starlight and memories.

Leon Reed

John Messeder expressed his thanks and I thought I would too.

I’m thankful for three kids who all turned out to be better people than me. I wish I could claim more credit for the way they turned out but I regularly marvel at what fine people Sam, Steve, and Casey have become.

I’m thankful that they all have found life partners who are loving and caring.

I’m thankful for my five grandchildren and the wonderful job their parents are doing of raising smart and kind people.

I’m thankful I finally found my way to Gettysburg, an ideal small town environment and the perfect place to pursue my passion for history.

I’m thankful for my life partner and spouse, Lois. We are in that happy situation where we often have exactly the same thought and when one says “Do you remember that time …,” that the other one knows exactly what they’re about to ask.

I’m thankful for the many new friends I’ve made since we moved here.

I’m thankful that we’re still healthy enough to do some traveling and that we have so many happy memories of exciting places we’ve been.

I’m thankful to live in a town with such a vibrant non-profit sector, to SCCAP, CARES, the@ Home Coalition, Habitat, the Land Conservancy, the Gettysburg Foundation and its outstanding children’s museum, and many other non-profits that make Gettysburg such a caring town.

I’m thankful for my political brothers/sisters at DFA, Will, Jeff, Jeanne, Judith, Lasco, Tony, Elmer, Tom, Bill, and many others who give me hope.

I’m grateful to Jack Melton, Ted Savas, Chris Mackowski, and the other people who publish my occasional blatherings.

I’m thankful for the countryside, the fruit belt and the beautiful land along South Mountain.

I’m thankful for Harry Hartman and Charles Stangor, for publishing better newspapers than we probably have a right to expect and for allowing publication of a wide variety of opinions in their pages.

Charles Stangor

I’ve been a big believer in the power of gratitude all my life and that is perhaps why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

To list everything I’m thankful for would take many, many more words than I will write here.

I’m thankful to be alive on this beautiful fall morning and to be able to read the ways that my colleagues are themselves thankful.

I’m thankful to be able to share local news with each of you and to know how many of you are thankful that I do it.

And I’m thankful for my friends and family who make my life complete.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.

Alex Hayes

“What are you thankful for?” is a question that makes most children’s eyes roll on the fourth Thursday in November.

Youngsters usually rattle off “Mom, dad, the dog,” when they really are thinking “how much green bean casserole do I need to eat before Mom allows me to beeline towards dessert?

I find value in reflecting on the question as I mature, especially when life’s problems become much deeper than “How many gifts can I circle in the Sears Wish Book before I am told to stop?”

Those simple, abrupt answers I gave as a child still hold true today.

Mom and Dad are no longer physically at our holiday feast, but memories of those meals we shared remain strong. All year, I work to carry out the lessons they taught me – hard work, honesty, and kindness.  Those values have led to a happy life and I am thankful.

I am most thankful for a wonderful wife who challenges me to be better and is patient when I falter. Ashley’s laughter brightens the most difficult days. I am still baffled by how I got so lucky, but am forever thankful for my life partner.

The dogs, Toby the Golden Retriever and Callie the Black Lab, know nothing but unconditional love. Every day when I come home, they run around in circles with excitement. Later in the evening, they demand I pet them. I know no better way to calm down than by petting a beloved animal.

I most likely never said I was grateful for my brother as a child. We were 18 months apart and more often opponents than teammates. Decades later, I am genuinely grateful for his friendship and the love he brought into our family through his wife, Colleen and daughters, Katie and Peyton.

My nieces have introduced me to TikTok, field hockey, and bracelet making. I never knew I needed such knowledge in my life but tapping into a teenage mind is a great way to escape from adulthood pressures.

I am hitting that stage of life in which seeing friends is harder than it was 20 years ago. We are all busy, many have children, and some live on the other side of the country. However, as I mature I realize that true friendship is not measured by the number of Friday and Saturday nights in a row we spend together but instead if we can pick up the phone or visit in person after months of silence and still pick up where we left off.

And finally, I am thankful for Gettysburg Connection readers and Chuck Stangor for giving me the opportunity to share my words. When I left full-time journalism earlier this year, I never imagined again having a space where I could share our community’s stories. You keep reading and I will keep writing.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Judith Cameron Seniura

When we moved to this area about four years ago, I was amazed and disappointed at the lack of females in leadership positions I encountered in my day-to-day life. After all, this is not the future I envisioned when I burned my bra nearly half a decade ago.

So I am thankful that since I revived my earlier career as a freelance writer, I have been able to get out into the community in Adams County and meet some women who do outstanding work in their roles as leaders of government and non-profits. Here, in no particular order, are some of the women I’ve been pleased to make acquaintance with:

 Patricia T. Smith, President of Fairfield Borough Council

 Molly R. Mudd, Esquire, Adams County Solicitor

 Paula V. Neiman, Chief Clerk, Adams County

 Pat Smith, Treasurer of Adams County Association of Governments

 Danielle Helwig, Secretary of Adams County Association of Governments

 Cindy McGrew, Founder, and CEO of Operation Second Chance

 Rebecca Van der Groef, LSW, Chief Executive Officer, Hoffman Homes

 Judy Hogan, Chair, Liberty Township Planning Commission Chair

 Wendy Peck, Liberty Township Secretary/Treasurer

 Jennifer I. Holtz, President, Fairfield Area School Board

 Robin Fitzpatrick, President, Adams Economic Alliance

 Katy L. Hileman, Warden, Adams County Adult Correctional Complex

 Sherri Clayton-Williams, Director, Adams County Office of Planning and Development

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I look forward, with gratitude, to meeting more women working to make this county an equitable place to live and raise our daughters and sons. After all, the future knows no gender.

Mark Purdy

Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, helps me to live in the moment. I think we all struggle with that sometimes, worrying about what’s happened and what’s next. But a Thursday – a Thursday! – in the otherwise unremarkable month of November seems particularly designed for us to appreciate the day for what it is, because that’s all there’s time for. There’s preparation involved, sure, but nothing like the hype that is to come. Today, it’s one and done. I will be looking around in gratitude for where I am, the people I’m with, and what I am able to do. This day stands alone, proudly. Happy Thanksgiving.

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