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Have a blessed, safe and happy Thanksgiving

Too often, we prosperous, free Americans take our many blessings for granted.

That said, if any good has come from the COVID-19 pandemic we have experienced for a year and a half now, let us hope it as reinforced to us the fragility of life and helped us to better appreciate the gifts we have. Indeed, we all have so much for which to be thankful!

As we come together today — whether in person or via the gift of the digital age — many of us will say a prayer of thanksgiving and speak words of support and gratitude for those here with us, or those who have left this earth.

Countless Ohioans have experienced the pain of losing co-workers or friends or loved ones this year due to COVID-19. Many of us in Trumbull and Mahoning counties have been ill at home or hospitalized ourselves with this scourge of a disease.

Of course we will spend time today celebrating the ones we love and recalling those we have lost.

But as we pray and hope — and if we gather together, hopefully following health guidelines of wearing masks, washing our hands repeatedly and staying socially distanced — we only can hope this is the final holiday that we will have the worries of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Among all of this and despite illness, or heartbreaking losses, we are certain we all will find some glimmer of hope and reasons for gratitude this holiday. Area children, your neighbors and so many others throughout the Mahoning Valley took the time recently to share some of those thoughts of gratitude that we happily are sharing with you in today’s newspaper.

Inside, you will find hundreds of brief, but heartfelt, submissions from classrooms of young children and other readers.

You also can read lovely stories about young people in our area who seem to have avoided falling into the trap that so many of us do. Rather, they have recognized their blessings, and we are sharing those stories with you.

One of those young people, Valerie Smidova, a 16-year-old exchange student from the Czech Republic, is living temporarily in Trumbull County. She never before experienced the Thanksgiving holiday, but she knows well the concept and shared her gratitude for her family back home, for her Masury host family and for all her friends in Europe and the United States who are healthy amid the pandemic.

In her Giving Thanks letter submitted to the Tribune Chronicle, Valerie gave thanks that she could travel and make new memories.

“I am thankful for another new day,” she said.

What a beautiful thought to share with her new American friends on this very special holiday.

Indeed, we also are thankful for this new day, and we hope you are, too.

May you and those you love have a happy, safe, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

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