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Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated annually on the last Thursday in November. President Abraham Lincoln is credited for making this day a federal holiday in 1863, more than 150 years ago. But the roots of the first Thanksgiving celebration stretch back much further to the Pilgrims and Native Americans.

So how are you celebrating Thanksgiving 2019? Will your holiday be a momentous one? Or are you planning a quiet celebration or even none at all?

Regardless of whether or not you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember to take the time to share your gratitude and reflect on the wonderful things in your life.

Kevin Thurman, of Farmington, said he has much to be thankful for this year.

“I am thankful to be cancer-free and all of my doctors that have been working hard to keep me that way,” he said. “I am thankful for my family and my amazing community.”

He said most of all he is thankful for all the things that one cannot put a price tag on: love, family, health and God’s goodness.

“My perspective has changed a lot of the last few years and I am learning not to take my many blessings for granted.”

Shawnna Robinson, of Farmington, expressed her thankfulness for her faith and family.

“Our family has grown in the past couple years with the marriage of our daughter,” she said, “and it will grow even more with our oldest getting engaged.”

Robinson and her husband John were able to make memories with their youngest child during a trip to Florida this past summer. They have also been able to take time out to visit their other two children.

She is especially grateful this Thanksgiving. Robinson was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 10 years ago right at Thanksgiving. “I can’t believe it. Seems like yesterday. I see how God was with me and my family all that time.”

Megan Barnett, of Leadwood, is also celebrating health, faith and her family.

“I’m so thankful God has allowed me to have more time with my family. He is and always will be the great physician.”

Barnett’s husband, John, an area teacher and coach, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late 2017. The couple traveled to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas for treatment. Now John is cancer-free. The family shares John’s story with everyone they can to offer hope to others.

Chrissy Crocker, of Irondale, and her family are experiencing a similar situation with her mother, Mary, of Old Mines, who is battling cancer.

“Thanksgiving will be hard for me and our family,” she said.

She is grateful, whose strength in God is “amazing.”

“Mom is excited about Thanksgiving and to have us all there with her and to have her favorite foods and to give thanks to our heavenly father. She definitely gives me strength.”

Crocker said she doesn’t want to even imagine that this could be their last Thanksgiving with her. “But at the same time, I know she is ready and she is going to be in heaven.”

She’s also thankful for her family and friends who have supported her during this difficult time. She is grateful for all the love, support, prayers, laughter, tears and hugs.

“In this difficult time we just want to enjoy this Thanksgiving,” Crocker said, “and I am thankful to have one more day with my mom and get to see her beautiful smile and to hear the words, ‘I love you.’”

Tamara Bretz, of Farmington, is counting all of her blessings. She recently underwent emergency surgery and was hospitalized for several days.

“I am very thankful for the many blessings that were made obvious to me during this time,” she said.

It was then when she realized how thankful she was for the love and care she received during this difficult time.

“Sometimes it just takes something serious to make us aware of what we really have,” said Bretz. “I have so many things to be thankful for. I’m so thankful for God and his mercy and grace.”

In addition, she is grateful for her family which consists of her husband, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and mother-in-law, and their love. She is also appreciative of the people who she works with and the many students whose lives she is part of.

Other expressions of gratitude are for her church family, for being a citizen of the U.S., her home and job, and being able to share with others.

“I am thankful for waking up this morning and being blessed to have another day to enjoy these blessings. Even when things are rough, we have much to be thankful for!”

Micke Brenneke, of Mitchell, has been a school nurse for 21 years. She said her blessings were simple: she’s thankful for Jesus, her family and her health.

Matthew Clifton, 19, of Fredericktown, said he’s most grateful for his supportive parents who have lovingly raised him in a faith-based home, and his little sister Ava.

He is also grateful for having Mineral Area College so close to home to attend.

He said he’s also been blessed with good health and good friends who serve as great role models. He is also blessed to have his grandparents and other family members in his life, along with all his family’s animals.

“God has richly blessed me with many reasons to be thankful for,” he said.

Kim Hartley, of Mineral Point, is equally grateful for her loving family and the beautiful memories they make together.

“I always love traveling with them,” she said.

For each place she and husband John and their twin daughters Julia and Kaytlen visit, the family purchases a Christmas ornament to help them remember their trip and the wonderful memories they made together.

“As we put up our Christmas tree each year, I reflect back on the fond memories that we made on each trip and how much our girls have grown and changed.”

Teresa Ressel, of Terre Du Lac, gave a simplified but perfectly stated answer for what she is grateful this Thanksgiving: family, friends, co-workers, faith and health. “And sunshine and kindness.”

Lisa Wigger, of Desloge, said she has so much for which she is thankful.

“I am truly, truly blessed and most thankful for my faith, my amazing family, good health and my teaching career.”

Beth Stroup, of Farmington, is most thankful for her “faith in God and that his plans trump my own. Everything I have is because of His divine plan for me – my family, my house, my job, my friends – everything.”

Sarah Bishop, of Desloge, is grateful for the love of Jesus and his never-ending grace and love. She’s also thankful for her family, children Sadie, 5, and Hunter, 9, and boyfriend Josh.

Tara Lewis, of Leadwood, is most grateful for her family.

“It’s not always easy,” she said. “It’s usually very hard to find balance with so many children that span a decade in ages. But, through colleges, boyfriend changes, friend changes, a new daughter-in-law, we consistently love each other and work to encourage each other.”

Lewis said she’s thrilled her new daughter, Emily, loves the Lewis family as much as she does her first family.

When the older Lewis children come home, they still spend the night when they visit.

“That makes us – Mom and Dad – still feel loved, wanted and needed,” Lewis said.

She is also grateful for her amazing friends who pray for her family and genuinely care.

Krista Merseal, of Terre Du Lac, is very thankful for her husband.

This year has been a trying year for her. There were times she felt defeated, but her husband reminded Merseal that she is a strong woman. He also told her, “Seasons are short, and like all seasons, this season will pass.”

Merseal said above all, she is most thankful for her beautiful family and the values and traditions they which have been passed down through generations.

“I see my kids carrying on our family traditions with their children and it’s a beautiful sight.”

Nichole Simily, of Park Hills, is grateful for her kids, God, family and friends.

“Without them, there just wouldn’t be much to be thankful for,” she said.

Brandy Momot Pratt, of Terre Du Lac, is thankful for her family: the grace, patience and support of her husband to help her reach her goals; the safety and health of her son as he pursues his education away from home; the ability to watch her daughter grow into a determined, compassionate teenager; and having another year with her mom.

Pratt is also grateful for her extended family, in-laws, new and old friends, a career that truly makes a difference in healthcare, her health, and the ability to worship and grow her faith.

Alycia Burgess, of Farmington, said she might sound like a broken record but honestly she's "so thankful for my family, not just my husband and two amazing kids, but my whole family."

She said she has an amazing family who still gets together as much as they can and they all get along.

"I am so blessed to have my mom, dad, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews," she said, "and I love them all so much."

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