2010 hasn't been a very good year for me, and I'm glad that it is on its way out. I struggled with sick cats, writer's block, a flooded basement and far too many phone calls from loved ones that began: "So, I've got some bad news."
With so much heartache and trouble going around, you can easily sink into a depression and forget what brings joy to your life. I know I'm not alone in this. A lot of folks have been facing tough times lately and the stress of the holidays can make it worse. So let's take some time to remember what we are thankful for - not just because of Thanksgiving, but because it will make life seem brighter.
I'm thankful for my amazing family and friends.
I'm thankful that I'm doing what I love even if it means that money is tight sometimes. I spend my days writing and my nights bartending, which actually means I spend my days playing with my imaginary friends and my nights hanging out with my real ones at the Beacon.
Connected to that, I am very thankful to the Forest Park Public Library, which has made both of my jobs more fun this year. When they asked me to pose for a READ! poster with one of my young adult books, I felt like such a rock star. And when they brought Trivia Night to the Beacon, packing the barstools with fellow geeks every second Wednesday of the month, they united my love of books and useless knowledge with my favorite neighborhood pub.
I am also thankful for the Forest Park Park District, which is helping me stay in shape this holiday season through the Monday night Mix class. It also allowed me to channel my inner child when I needed it most this summer on those great waterslides at the pool.
I am beyond grateful that Forest Park got its own Farmers' Market this year. Thank you to all the wonderful vendors and volunteers who made it possible. Through the Farmers' Market, I found a CSA, which delivers locally grown, organic vegetables to my door every week, so I will have quite a feast to go with my Tofurky this Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful that I won't have to brave the crowds at the malls on Black Friday because I live in a community that has so many independent businesses I can walk to. I've already found some unique gifts at Team Blonde and The Old School Records, and there is a lot more where those came from at the other shops on Madison Street.
Mainly, I'm thankful to live in a community that acts like a community. When those floods hit this summer, neighbors helped neighbors and the staff at Village Hall worked hard to make sure residents got information and assistance. I've also loved seeing people with common goals, such as caring for stray cats or building a beautiful community garden, come together here. I'm thankful for all of you.
Last but not least, I'm extremely thankful to share my views and experiences with you in the Forest Park Review. Writing for this paper has given me so many opportunities to explore what Forest Park and the people who live here are all about. Lately I've been thinking about our village slogan: "Big city access, small town charm." When I moved here, my main concern was the first part, but now that I've gotten to know more neighbors and seen what Forest Park has to offer, I appreciate the "small town charm."
Happy Thanksgiving, Forest Park! I'm thankful to have you.
Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.