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In this season of being thankful, I asked our various contributors for their thoughts on the season. They range from the secular, being thankful for Jesus Christ, for example, to two that are uniquely St. Helena from columnist Mark G. Epstein.

A third needs mentioning. Calistoga pastor Noah Smith looks a little deeper into what he’s grateful for, simple things that we may take for granted.

Before I get into those, however, I wanted to share my thoughts on this Sunday following Thanksgiving.

Joni and I went to share the holiday with Joni’s family in Pleasanton. We had a wonderful meal, including a great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Doug Barr, and during the afternoon, two of our great-nephews, Garrett and Colin Fratzke, were in the downstairs TV room wrestling. Garrett, the older, is a freshman in high school and is large, taller than 6 feet and some 170 pounds. He plays basketball.

His younger brother, Colin, is smaller, but, boy is he tenacious. All he wanted to do with his brother was get into a wrestling match. So, they wrestled on the floor and laughed and giggled. Colin was being a pest … his brother was mostly patient and didn’t want to hurt Colin.

Both wanted to use their father’s laptop computer: Garrett to study how to build a computer, Colin to play a game that I honestly didn’t understand.

Today, I’m thankful I got to witness the love and silly rough housing of these two boys – a scene so typically American and one that we can all relate to, I’m sure. It reminds me of simpler times, when I was their age and I would rough house with my two brothers – much to the consternation of my mother.

David Brown writes, “I am thankful that, in the end, all us who live or have lived or will live on this earth are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, and that for us He has allowed the sacrifice of his Son to provide an atonement for every one of us. There is no greater gift!”

Columnist Mark G. Epstein has two responses: First, a serious one, “I’m thankful for all the St. Helenans who get involved in local politics and issues – the more chefs, the better the broth!

“Not so serious – I’m thankful for all the courteous drivers in St. Helena, who let folks make left-hand turns in front of them.”

Calistoga pastor Noah Smith writes, “I would like to give thanks to God, who through Jesus Christ, has poured out his abundant grace and kindness upon my life that I might be fully known and loved by him. I am blessed daily by my wonderful family, the people of Highlands Christian Fellowship, and the people of Calistoga.

“This season, I am particularly thankful for the simple things (like a warm home, electricity, running water, etc.), that are so easily taken for granted.”

Pastor Steve Sager writes, “I am thankful for a merciful Heavenly Father, that Jesus chose to shed His blood for my sins, for the Holy Spirit, my Teacher, Guide and Comforter. I am thankful for trials that produce God’s character in us.

“I am thankful for my amazing wife, Kathy, my daughters, Rachel, Rebekah, her husband, Josh and our youngest daughter, Ruthie. I am thankful for my son Ron, and his family ... and Teddy, our sweet yellow Lab. Finally, I am thankful to live in a country where we can agree to disagree. My hope is that we will be able to return to doing that more agreeably.”

Columnist Tom Brown spoke of his eternal gratefulness, when he wrote: “I am eternally grateful for my family, friends, and reasonably good health and also for the many opportunities I have to work with educators, families, and others who touch the future in their work with young people.”

New to our community and to the Thursday Pulpit lineup is Rich Stein, associate pastor of Calvary Christian Church. He advises his written words were part of a recent sermon. They could easily apply to all of us. “I’m thankful for the usual things we say… my amazing wife and beautiful children, friends, a ministry job and to be able to live here in this beautiful town.

“But there were some other things highlighted to me last week… I’m thankful for friends that I’ve argued with and don’t see eye to eye with and we’re still friends. It means we’ve matured together. I’m thankful for the many difficulties I’ve faced in my life. I’m thankful that in them, I’ve learned a lot about my own resolve. I’m thankful it made me stronger. I’m thankful I won’t be repeating those mistakes. While I hate the difficulties, I’m thankful for the opportunity to find something better on the other side of those adverse conditions.

“If I never needed healing, I would never have encountered God as healer. If I never needed provision, I would never have encountered God as provider. If I never needed comfort, I’d never have experienced God as comforter.

“I’m thankful that life throws curve balls sometimes, and I’m thankful that even though I strike out a time or two … I’m always back up to hit again and even smash a couple of them out of the ball park! I’m thankful for people and circumstances! I’m thankful for a warrior spirit!”

From spiritual counselor Kate Messmer Jessup, comes the following: “I am grateful for the many blessings that I have in my life. My health, my families’ health, and the simple things in life that can be easy to take for granted. But most of all, I am grateful for my connection with Spirit. It is because of this relationship that I am able to find peace when I am fearful, to recognize the joyful moments and be grateful for them, and most of all it allows me to give and receive love with an open heart.”

Tim Carl entrances us with his “Storyteller” columns that always tell an interesting tale but leave us wanting a little more. His contribution to my request is straight forward and direct. He writes, “I am thankful to be free. Free to love who I choose; free to live with an eye toward leaving things better than how I found them; free to eating in a manner that supports the health of the plant; free to not believe everything I hear; free to openly disagree with our political leaders.”

Pastor Jonathan Eastman writes that there is so much to be grateful for, “relationships with my partner, children, grandchildren, church members, colleagues in ministry, the many thoughtful and compassionate people in this valley. The splendor of our planet, the beauty of our valley in particular. Plenty of good food, a warm, safe place to sleep, and meaningful work to do.”

A longtime St. Helena resident, Sara Cakebread, works with Julie Spencer at the Rianda House, even though she’s living part of the time in Delaware. She writes, “Amidst the turmoil and tragedy that surrounds us these days, this holiday season I am grateful for … gratitude. By remaining grateful for the many blessings in my life — incredible people, opportunities to serve, good health, food on the table and so much more, I can see the light of hope through the fog of chaos and have faith that love, kindness and compassion will win.”

St. Helena pastor Burke Owens writes he is so thankful “for the many gifts and graces I have been given; my soul and family, our church and community. This season reminds me of God’s abiding faith in creation, this wonderful and miraculous experiment called life, for which I am so deeply grateful.”

Another St. Helenan, Kerry Scott Baldwin, elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, writes that he’s “most thankful for Jesus Christ and His amazing grace. I very much appreciate my loving, loyal family and friends. I feel blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Last but by no means least is Senior Corner contributor Betty Rhodes, who obviously loves her life: “Very simply, I am thrilled to get the word out to my peers about what a kick it is to be an older senior, and to be able to push the idea that life is what we make it … there’s no one else we can blame. Making every moment count, in a positive way, and to realize our dreams. I’m thankful for Dave’s kindness, and my dear family and the friends that I am very fortunate to have.”

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st