I’ve got to admit that as far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is not very high on my list. I’m vegan, so a day that revolves around eating turkey…

Also, I’m well aware of how the pilgrims screwed over the Native Americans. I don’t want to pretend things were all good for the sake of a holiday. And isn’t there a lot of football on Thanksgiving? I don’t like football. Bartending on Sundays for more than two years has only reinforced that.

But the one thing about Thanksgiving that I can really get behind (besides Tofurky) is the act of giving thanks for all that is good in life. With so many people losing their homes to foreclosure, I’m truly thankful to have a roof over my head. My gratitude only grows when I reflect on what an amazing community I live in.

I’ve got a lot of thanking to do.

Thank you to Jodi and Peter of The Old School Records. Theirs was one of the first stores I ventured into upon moving to Forest Park. They immediately made me feel at home by asking me about my favorite bands. Now they know my tastes so well that they e-mail me when they stumble upon something they think I’ll like. And Jodi even invited me to her baby shower! Growing up, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. But thanks to Jodi and Peter, I felt welcomed into Forest Park with open arms.

Speaking of people who make me feel like part of the community, thank you to all the patrons at the Beacon Pub. There’s no better place to get to know your neighbors than at the neighborhood watering hole. One of the main reasons I returned to bartending is because I enjoy spending time with the customers from all walks of life that I meet at the Beacon.

Bartenders need to drink too, sometimes, so thank you to Kelly at Zambonies. I rarely leave my comfort zone at the Beacon, but when I do it’s to see Kelly. She’s always fun to talk to and she makes creative and delicious shots.

Thanks to Debbie and the rest of the gals at Bertuca Salon. Five years ago, I desperately needed a new hairstylist and had some serious special needs. My hair was dyed black, purple, and blue and I wanted it bleached blond. I went from salon to salon looking for someone who seemed confident they could do it for a reasonable price. Debbie was the only one who actually talked me through how she’d approach it. I’ve trusted her ever since. Most recently, she found pink dye that holds like permanent color. She’s a miracle worker, that one.

Thanks to Augie at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore. Even though my work doesn’t fit his store’s genres, he’s been endlessly supportive of me as a local author. Not to mention his amazing customer service. This spring when my brother graduated law school, he helped us find beautiful copies of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers for him.

Thanks to Lindsey, the youth services manager at the Forest Park Public Library. I did an event with her and was so impressed with the way she worked with the teens. She’s truly a gift to our community.

And most of all, thank you to everyone who reads my column. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is when you stop me on the street or at work to tell me what you thought of it. Happy holidays to you all!

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.