As we gather around the dinner table with friends, family, neighbors and others this Thanksgiving, we must remind ourselves to take a moment and reflect upon all we have to be thankful for. For many of us, it is easy to forget how long that list is.
It's been almost 400 years since Thanksgiving provided an opportunity for the Pilgrims to express thanks for surviving a difficult first year - one wrought with hunger, disease and other hardships - in their new homeland.
That three-day feast with their American Indian neighbors in 1621 formed the basis of what has become the American tradition of Thanksgiving. On Nov. 26, 1789, President George Washington declared a day for all Americans to unite and give thanks to God for their good fortune. Washington made a similar declaration six years later.
But Thanksgiving didn't become an annual event until President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation creating the holiday in 1863, during the height of the Civil War.
In the decades that have followed Lincoln's proclamation, Thanksgiving has become the impetus for families and friends to reunite in celebration of life, freedom, health, food and one another.
We have much to be thankful for here in Routt County. The real estate market is strong, unemployment and crime are low, and our quality of life remains high. We have a new company - with capital to spend - operating the Steamboat Ski Area, and that change in ownership has helped spur unprecedented private and public redevelopment efforts. Our school systems remain generally strong. We have dozens of local nonprofit organizations accomplishing great things in a variety of areas, including helping those among us who are less fortunate. We are part of active, educated and engaged communities. We live in a place where neighbors and strangers alike wave at passing cars and exchange polite "hellos" in grocery store aisles. Our air and water are clean. We have countless recreation opportunities that few other communities can offer. We live in a place so special that tens of thousands of visitors come here year after year for a taste of what we experience year-round.
Of course, there are many other things for which each of us can and should be thankful, not the least of which are the troops fighting for freedom across the world. Many of them won't be home to celebrate this special day with loved ones. Some of those troops call Routt County home.
We encourage you to keep these things in mind Thursday and to consider what you could do to help those who are less fortunate.
Finally, we wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.