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Missy Layfield - Editor

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time for our annual pause to consider all that we are thankful for.

While it’s easy to get caught up in what seems to be our national pastime of grouching and complaining about the government, idiot drivers and well, idiots in general, usually defined as anyone who doesn’t agree with our politics, we do have a national holiday devoted to giving thanks.

Just for a few days, let the world be. Complaining hasn’t fixed it yet, has it? Let’s stop complaining about the Christmas displays that popped up in September and the stores that are open on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t let the slow driver in front of us or the one making a left turn from the wrong lane make us crazy.

Look around at all we have to be thankful for. As a general rule, those with less tend to be more thankful, while those with more tend to take it for granted. Which are we?

Have a warm, safe place to sleep at night? Be thankful.

Have your health? Be thankful.

Have a few people who care about you? Be thankful.

Have a job? Be thankful.

Have the ability to read and speak? Be thankful.

Live in the snow zone but have the opportunity to come south to enjoy the sun? Be thankful.

You get the drift. We all no matter our circumstances are surrounded by gifts for which we can and should be grateful.

You know the grouchy guys in the balcony from the Muppets, Statler and Waldorf?

Don’t be them. Not for anyone’s sake but your own. Grateful people are happier. The rest of us around you will be happy that you’re happy. And if you tend to be on the grouchy side normally, a sudden shift will confuse the daylights out of people.

Speaking of gratitude, we here at the Sand Paper have a lot to be thankful for. Just a few things we’re grateful for are…

-There are so many people and so many community supported projects to help Islanders that we have trouble fitting them into our Kudos editorial every couple months. Isn’t that a wonderful problem to have?

-Dozens of Islanders volunteer to serve on Town advisory committees to research, discuss and plan ways to improve our island. While they get to make decisions on the final proposal, there’s no possible way that the five people sitting on Town Council could possibly address in depth all the things that these committees work on year round. And we all benefit.

-All Islanders, whether they are renters, property-owners, business owners and visitors are viewed as equals here in Fort Myers Beach. Everyone’s opinion is valid and valued. Many communities primarily listen to businesses, other ignore them entirely and focus solely on residents’ concerns. Our community seems to have found a balance where everyone’s opinion is valued. Just last week, we heard from a person who was renting for the season and contacted us with a question. We encouraged him to ask Town Hall and he declined, saying he was not authorized to speak for the property owner. That reminded me of the long tradition in this town of hearing everyone, whether renter or owner, full time or seasonal resident. What kind of community would not be willing to allow a renter to ask a simple question because he wasn’t a property owner? We’re glad we don’t live there. To speak to someone at Town Hall or in front of Town Council, we don’t require anything more than your name. No property deed, no voter ID, no birth certificate proving you were born here. We’re all Islanders, thankfully.

-Our community supports each other. Just last weekend, there were several fundraisers held, ranging from a benefit for a local man hoping to spend Christmas at home with his son to a craft beer fest to raise money for Bay Oaks kids to a black tie dinner dance that supports multiple Island charities. And more than $22,000 was raised. During one weekend. We are not a wealthy community and our 6,000+ residents cover the entire socio-economic scale. That was an amazing amount of money raised - all for causes dear to the hearts of Islanders. That is something for us all to be grateful for.

We all have an abundance of reasons to be thankful. For each one of us this Thanksgiving, we wish the gift of sight to recognize those blessings and the time to count and appreciate them.

May your list be long and your gratitude carry over to everyday life. If we only look, we all have something to be thankful for, even on our worst day. All we have to do is look for it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Missy Layfield