Having a hard time being thankful for Thanksgiving? Yeah, so am I. Sure, we’re supposed to be celebrating the harvest but this is such a depressing time of year. The trees are bare, the wind is cold and it gets dark at 4:30.

Thanksgiving isn’t just being grateful for abundance; we’re also celebrating family. I’ll be glad to see the college kids come home. But sometimes being a parent means solving problems that you didn’t necessarily create. I’m not exactly Mr. Fix It but I swear something breaks in the house, or in one of our cars, every week. We’ve had so many flat tires lately; I’m ready to join a pit crew.

No one wants to hear complaining or self-pity, so I’ll continue. I’m reading that our incomes here in Illinois have actually declined. Many families are going through rough times due to shrinking salaries and soaring costs. Turkey is still inexpensive, though, so we should start serving it more than once a year.

At least you have your health, you say. Yes, but I need at least six major operations ” and that’s just for my teeth. I also worry about friends who are having health problems. You feel so helpless when you see a friend suffering and all you can give him is candy corn.

When you dwell on your own problems you can forget that you live in the richest country on Earth. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep our high standard of living, though. Our trade deficit keeps growing and our national debt is out of control. I’m worried that our children will be in debt and that I won’t be able to afford turkey.

Well, even if the national economy is faltering, at least we have a strong local economy here in Forest Park. But even that’s a problem. Property values and taxes are going up so fast; some of us feel like we’re being priced out of here. I dread the idea of moving further into suburbia. I had my eye on those homeless hovels along the Eisenhower but now they’re gone.

OK, so even if Forest Park is getting pricey, you can’t forget how friendly it is around here. Some people would prefer more privacy, though and don’t want to be greeted everywhere they go in town. They’ve got busy schedules and no time to soak up small town charm.

There’s one person I always have time for, though – my wife. No matter how down I get, I’m grateful to have her. She’s a very positive person, who finds many reasons to be thankful. I should have asked her to write the column.

Writing, at least I can be grateful for that. Sure, newspaper circulation is in decline across the country. But at least we have an award-winning local paper. What’s that? You’re ready to turn to the police report? So am I.

But I can’t end on such a depressing note. I hope this cloud lifts and if there’s anyone else out there wallowing in the holiday blues ” remember you’re not alone. On Thursday morning try to stay positive ” you’ll find that changing the left rear is a snap.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.