In times of mass shootings, rampant sexual harassment claims and divisive politics, local residents are turning to their families for comfort this Thanksgiving.
We asked people a simple question — “What are you thankful for this year?” — and it provoked a range of complex and emotional answers. Family, or being reunited with family, was the most frequent response, but others spoke of feeling inspired by the #metoo campaign regarding sexual harassment or expressed their love for God or their community.
“There’s a lot of heartache this year in my family,” Miranda Hurt of Dayton, “so it’s nice to actually get back together, praying together and actually sit at a table for once.”
And, even if they won’t all be together, family was still what Javan Richardson of Xenia answered.
“I’m grateful for my family. I will be working this Thanksgiving, so I won’t be with them, you know, but (they) keep me drivin’, keep me motivated, keep me going,” Richardson said, “so I’m grateful to have them in my life.”
Dexter Crawford of Dayton had three things he was thankful for.
“My health. My family. Just opportunities that are out there for people,” Crawford said. “You know, people complain about the economy, but it’s never been as good as it has been in my lifetime. There’s no reason for anybody to have their head down.”
Willow Lopez, a Lima resident who is a University of Dayton political science student, said, “This year with all of the issues going on in politics … it really means a lot to me when I see people standing up for other people. This year I’m really thankful for all the people who have come out during the #metoo movement.
“I have personally been a victim of sexual assault, and it has affected me a lot in my everyday life. It’s awesome seeing this huge community and people inspiring me to stand up for myself and my rights.”
Xenia’s Tim Young offered a spiritual answer.
“I am grateful that I have a loving God that loved me so much that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for my sins. And I am thankful for a country where I can believe according to my conscience,” Young said.
India Norman of Dayton said family and friends have supported her through tough times.
“I’ve had a lot go on the last few weeks, so I definitely would just say family, friends, people who are there for you … I have a huge support system that’s really good to me. They definitely gave me a shoulder to cry on and lean on, so I appreciate it,” Norman said.
Lane Dykman of Xenia said, “the list is long.”
“I’m thankful for a good and healthy family,” including his wife and five children, Dykman said. “That’s what I’m thankful for, among other things … I’m working for a good company… Good in-laws. Good health.”
Kateland Heard of Dayton was thankful for her unborn son.
“I’m grateful for my family, and I’m grateful for my son. His arrival,” she said. “Just how everything is and how God has blessed us so much.”
Joshua Shiverdecker of Dayton focused on his 2-year-old daughter.
“She was taken in by a good family. I wasn’t able to support her. Yeah, she was adopted into a great family. I got really lucky,” Shiverdecker said. “(And) my family. Music has been a huge part of my life, and it’s because of my parents. I’m highly grateful. Music brings us all in tune.”
Dorothee Bouquet of Yellow Springs said: “I’m grateful for having a healthy second child that came in July. And I’m grateful for having met my tribe … I’ve been responding to the new political climate, and I’m thankful that I learned so much from them this year.”
Vernon Fernandes, a trustee on the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance board, looked toward his Dayton community for what he was thankful for.
“Several things actually. Downtown Dayton has a new library, which I think is awesome. The performing arts have always been my favorite … I am a trustee. I am on the board so I’m a little biased perhaps, but it’s truly one of the great treasures in Dayton,” Fernandes said, adding Five Rivers MetroParks to his list.
“The place continues to blossom and become more beautiful every year. Pretty much loving Dayton and a lot to be thankful for here,” he said.