In collecting sentiments for this year’s “Giving Thanks” cover story, I noticed a trend. People are passionately, deep-down-in-their-souls grateful for many things — from community and family to Ted & Wally’s and Crossroads Mall — all the time, all year long … they just forget. They forget to pause and grasp their own gratitude, to express thanks to personal saviors and others who bring joy. They need a reminder. We all do. There’s a toddler I know named William. He’s in a bit of a repeating stage and one of his current favorites is a simple, yet important query: “Are you happy?” I love it when he asks me, because otherwise I forget to consider it. We don’t all have a William, but we should all ask this every day. And when you can answer yes, don’t forget to show thanks to the people that got you there. The Reader staff wants to thank you, for reading and for being members of such a vibrant community that we’ve always had something to write about these past 16 years. So, THANKS. You make us happy. — Sarah Wengert, Managing Editor ART/DESIGN/FILM “I am thankful for the many volunteers, supporters, professional artist mentors, students, parents, board members and staff that help us honor the legacy of Kent Bellows. It is their spark and passion that motivates me on a day-to-day basis. (I am also thankful for the waffles at the Daily Grub.)” — Anne Meysenburg, Executive Director, Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts “I am thankful beyond words and/or human expression to whoever was responsible for the AMAZING and possibly unrepeatable weather [of] October 3, for the grain elevator dinner.” — Anne Trumble, Director/Landscape Architect, Emerging Terrain “Moving to Omaha and leading the Joslyn Art Museum.” — Jack Becker, Ph.D., Executive Director & CEO, Joslyn Art Museum “My family, friends and the artist that give me support and inspiration with my business.” — Jean Imray, owner Dundee Gallery “I’m thankful for a new intern to lighten my load, a husband that will sleep in another room when he is snoring, Red Bull, a mother with great style that lets me raid her closet, a dog who only chews up things I don’t care about, being my own boss so that I can sleep in whenever I want, box wine really stepping it up and being able to do something I love everyday and people not thinking that I’m a complete moron.” — Jessica McKay, owner Birdhouse Interior Design Consulting “When I think of what I am thankful for this year, my frenetic mind jumps to a million obvious answers — the birth of my first child, the successful launch of our first dress line and the founding of CAMP, Omaha’s first creative co-working space. The times spent laughing in midtown bars with friends and sharing heaping stacks of pancakes during late-night meetings. But the running thread that unites all of these happy memories for which I am so thankful is the support and growth of the Omaha community. XO.” — Megan Hunt, designer, Princess Lasertron “I am thankful for the group of people that have had the faith, patience, and guts to jump into this new business venture of ours, The New BLK. Maybe even more so, I am beyond thankful to all the family members, friends and people of Omaha that have gone above and beyond to support us. You don’t have to and if you didn’t, it be a much harder journey.” — Shane Bainbridge, Creative/Principal, The New BLK “There’s so much to be grateful for, it’s hard to express in words. This year, a tragic event reawakened so many of us to the fact that we are so fortunate to be a part of this terrific community of unique, wonderful individuals. We lost a brilliant soul, close friend and important arts supporter, Jessica Latham, the owner of Bellwether Boutique. I, along with many others, miss her terribly. But I’m thankful for her inspirational memory.” — Rachel Jacobson, Founder/Director Film Streams DINING “There’s so much to be thankful for this year. I love my job! That’s a pretty overwhelming thing. Every day the Grub is open is another day I’m grateful to be a part of this incredible, creative, supportive community and for the friends and family who made even conceiving of this crazy endeavor seem maybe not so crazy after all.” — Elle Lien, owner/chef Daily Grub “That my family is healthy and I have been able to survive in the food business during the worst recession/depression in my lifetime.” — Greg Lindberg, owner Absolutely Fresh/Shucks MUSIC “Our teachers: both mine and the ones I have met here in Omaha who inspire us all with dedication and curiosity — and those teachers whose lessons and examples resonate with me long after my classes have ended.” — Garnett Bruce, Artistic Adviser/Principal Stage Director, Opera Omaha “This year I am most thankful that my mom is kicking cancer’s ass. I’m thankful for time spent working on the old car with my dad. I am thankful for the wonderful life that I’m fortunate enough to have, surrounded by amazing people and music. I’m thankful that we have found a way to use the gifts we’ve been given to help make someone else’s life a little happier.” — Larry Dunn AKA Lash LaRue, musician/founder of the Lash LaRue Toy Drive For Pine Ridge “There are a ridiculous amount of things that I am thankful for, even if I’m just considering since last Thanksgiving. If I had to boil it down though, there are just too many people, too many things to consider. So, while it is a blanket sentiment, it touches everything were I to make a list. Music is what I am thankful for, not only for what I get to do with Scott, Travis and Kaitlyn on a regular basis, but alongside what I share in common with everyone I love.” — Rebecca Lowry, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns “Three biggies: in this order: God’s relentless and abundant grace, the Wilkins Girls: Sheri-Lee, Nicole and Erica, Ping’s new G-15 golf clubs (haven’t bought them yet — but I did get the OK from the wife!!).” — Thomas Wilkins, Music Director, Omaha Symphony LITERARY “Dear Ted & Wally’s, Thank you for exemplifying almost everything I adore about Omaha: you’re a small local independent business (so you make voting with my dollars extra fun), you’re within walking distance of my place and therefore reduce my carbon footprint, you support my artistic endeavors and socializing shenanigans and sometimes both simultaneously. Very little brings me more satisfaction than bragging to far-faraway friends and family about my city’s punk rock ice cream shop. I don’t think I’ve ever directly expressed my gratitude, and now I hope you and I can be even better buddies. Thanks for your enthusiasm and cookie dough.” — Katie F-S, wordsmith/slam poet I have to admit that I’m thankful to see my novel, The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia in print at last — after five or six years of being thankful for working on it every day! — but most of all, I’m thankful for my beautiful grandson David, born August 25 to my daughter Liz and her husband Van. I think it was Simone de Beauvoir who said that women had to choose between the baby and the book. Not in 2010, Simone — for which I also give thanks.” — Mary Helen Stefaniak, novelist/associate professor of English, Creighton University “This year, I am thankful for the kindness of strangers. The publication of my first book yielded several opportunities to meet other local and regional writers. We shared stories, voiced struggles, laughed over cocktails and good food. Perhaps most importantly, we realized the power of the printed word is just as important as the human hands behind the copy.” — Wendy Townley, author, Nerdy Thirty MEDIA “I’m thankful for another amazing year with my family. Time seems to travel more quickly each year, but I feel that I’ve managed to spend time and take opportunities to reflect on the important things in my life such as my family and friends more so this year than in the past.” — Jeff Slobotski, Founder, Lead Evangelist & Promoter, Silicon Prairie News “ … I am so very thankful this year that I will never forget! Thankful to the paramedics that picked me up off the street, the incredible doctors at Creighton that put me back together. The nurses that put up with me, the many well-wishers that visited, sent notes of encouragement or reached out to my family. I am thankful to the makers of the helmet that prevented me from basically … well being dead on that July 23rd morning and so thankful to the incredible support my company, Clear Channel, provided me while I was recovering. Of course, I cannot forget to be thankful to the rehab staff at Immanuel Hospital, Alegent and others that worked me hard to get back to somewhat normal. Well, as normal as guy like me can be! Most importantly, I am thankful to my incredible wife, kids and the rest of my friends and family. Their strength provided me with the strength to recover after getting hit on my motorcycle and to keep going on. This is a year I will never forget and it’s taught me to never take anything for granted … ” — Crash Davis, 96.1 The Brew/1110 KFAB A poem by Matt and Ben: “We are thankful for Crossroads, ‘The Detroit of Malls,’ thankful for Suttle and the hilarious recall. We are thankful for elbows that allow us to hug, thankful for Benson even though we got mugged. We are thankful for Silent Letters, though annoying and useless, and thankful for inspirational women like Justin Bieber and Susan Eustice. We are thankful for pat-downs by the TSA, last time we went through I think we got laid. Most of all we are thankful for cotton; shirts, pants, undies and hats. Without cotton we’d be naked and nobody wants to see that.” — Brothers Matt and Ben Tompkins, Twister 93.3 POLITICS/CIVICS/SPORTS “I am thankful for my family, friends, colleagues and God’s grace.” — Trev Alberts, Director of Athletics, UNO “I am grateful that there are so many people in Omaha who refuse to become jaded, cynical or selfish. Whether it is forcing the state to correct the child welfare mess, or initiating green programs, or confronting the ugliness of bigotry, there are amazing people working to make things better in Omaha. We should all be grateful for these wonderful advocates who refuse to allow partisan carnival barkers to hawk simplistic solutions to complex problems.” — Timothy Butz, Asst. Director Fair Housing Center of Nebraska-Iowa “I am thankful that I was elected to the Omaha City Council in April! It is a real honor to represent my fellow citizens in District 7.” — Thomas Mulligan, City Councilmember, District 7 “My amazing trip to Thailand and India. Seeing other cultures in foreign countries gives amazing perspectives on both the positive and negative aspects of our own society. It also helps us realize that nothing is cast in stone, and that we can make sensible changes whenever we see the need.” — Elaine Wells, Founder, Black White Dialogues “Family.” — Franklin Thompson, City Councilmember, District 6 “I am thankful that Nebraskans were able to slow down the TransCanada pipeline from being built through the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer. The tar sands pipeline is bad for our land and water, two of our most precious resources. Without our land and water, we would not have much to be thankful for. So I am thankful for every landowner, citizen and advocate who spoke up and who has pushed back on this awful idea for our state.” — Jane Kleeb, Editor, BOLD Nebraska “Thankful for a city (Omaha) that comes together in time of need.” — Garry Gernandt, City Council President “I am thankful for the constant reminder by my two little girls (ages 8 and 5) about what’s most important in life.” — Pete Festersen, City Councilmember, District 1 “The holiday season provides the opportunity to pause and consider the blessings of the past year, despite the challenges it brought our state and nation. I am thankful for family and friends, as well as the opportunity to represent Nebraska in the U.S. Senate. As many Nebraskans have persevered through tough times this past year, I was often reminded of the incredible generosity and compassion Nebraskans demonstrate in communities across the state. Nebraska is a uniquely special place and I am incredibly grateful to call it home.” — Sen. Mike Johanns “James Watt, Reagan’s anti-environmental Secretary of the Interior, said we needn’t protect the Earth since it’s due for destruction anyway in the Second Coming. He resigned amid controversy, was later indicted for influence-peddling, and in 2002 praised Bush’s anti-environmental policies. This month Republican Congressman John Shimkus, in an Energy Committee hearing, dismissed all the science of climate change by quoting Genesis: Jehovah promised Noah he’d never destroy the world again, so we needn’t worry. The environmental crisis escalates, but what are facts and reason, evidence and logic in the face of cultists relying on stone-age folklore? Shimkus is not unique: “To the Koch network [of billionaires], ‘freedom’ means freedom from taxes and government regulation,” the New York Times reported in October, in breaking the news of the upcoming secret meeting of these wealthy libertarians, planning their well-financed war “for freedom,” that is, against regulation and what they call “climate change alarmism.” Midterm victory by such Tea Party Republicans means two years of trying to repair Bushevik damage will now be replaced by two years of the GOP pushing to implement the Koch agenda and impeach the President. So Congress will get nothing useful done until 2012 when Americans, once again only learning the hard way, can correct their mistake. I’m thankful we’ll get the chance.” — Jim Bechtel, founder of REASON

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