We Give Thanks For …

What are you thankful for?

That’s the question I posed last week.

Plenty of “06880” readers responded. Family, friends, community, health — the emails poured in.

When we all sit down tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll give thanks for many things. Among them:

The minute the moving truck left us on our first day in Westport in 1999, our friends Dee and Herb Appleman took us to the Library. I felt instantly at home, and have been devoted to it ever since. My sense of belonging grew as I met people through WestportREADS, guest lectures, hands-on workshops, art openings, concerts, contests, student performances, and PJ Story Time. (Do they still do this? My daughter is now 25!) My heartfelt thanks to all the staff, volunteers and fellow devoted patrons of the Westport Library. (Kerstin Rao)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

  I am thankful for another year that has seen our efforts to Save Old Saugatuck — a neighborhood of homes and history — from destruction at the hands of an uncaring developer. We’re a community, not a commodity. (Carolanne Curry)

I am thankful to have a home in Westport, even if only part time. It is about the place, but more about the people, plus a focus on all the arts, the shoreline, the physical beauty, the diverse intellects and energies. (Rosalie J. Wolf)

The family of teen non-speaker Wynston Browne’s epiphany that he is not intellectually disable, but a fully verbal “speller,” gifted, and readying to contribute to the world. (David Browne)

I am so thankful for the Westport Senior Center. They offer many classes and lectures that keep our senior minds active and social. With the Senior Center, old age would become boring and depressing. (Scott Kuhner)

Closed today.

 Grateful to still have the love of my life after her aorta spontaneously “dissected” last February (and the surgeon who saved her!). This is the still largely unacknowledged connective tissue disorder that stole John Ritter and Jonathan Larson. ERs must learn to more quickly detect this hidden killer that masks as a “non”-heart attack. (Anonymous)

I’m thankful my sisters and mom live in Westport, so I can visit often. (Laura Lehman)

I am thankful to be able to honor the Osage Nation land that I am privileged to live on. I honor the Osages who died while trying to live on this land in Oklahoma, and other parts of this area. I have gratitude for the growin powers of rich soil, rain and sunshine, and for farmers and thosoe who work in the food chain to bring the food that we eat. I honor the indigenous peoples whose lives we have shattered so that we white folks can celebrate “Thanksgiving.” The Native Americans call it “thanks taking.” (Lucy Weberling, Staples High School Class of 1961)

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Our family is so grateful to the teachers who have taught our children over the years!  All the way from the first preschool teacher (who taught us parents as well as our child) to the teachers at Staples who have taught them subjects we parents could never teach them.  We are deeply indebted to every one of them — the incredibly inspiring music and art teachers, Science Olympiad coach, paraprofessionals who added so much friendliness to the days, school psychologists, incredibly patient custodians who helped countless times to look for lost items, principals who learned everyone’s name, librarians, cafeteria workers, nurses, secretaries who looked after the children and us parents and made such significant differences so many times over.  There are so many people who worked way harder than their job description required and were so generous with their time, caring, empathy in addition to their commitment to impart knowledge and love of learning. (Anonymous)

The late head custodian Horace Lewis was just one of the many Westport Public Schools employees who earned our profound thanks.

ave grown up in Westport in the 1950s and ’60s. I am thankful I went to Berkeley in 1967. I’m thankful I had the chance to travel around the world a bit. I’m thankful for all the friends I have made and kept. (“With lovers and friends I still can recall/Some are dead and some are living/In my life I’ve loved them all.”) I’m even thankful for the grief. I am thankful I met my husband 44 years ago, and that we now live here in Westport. It turns out for me, you can go home again. (Ellen Naftalin)  

While having my family healthy, happy and in town for the holiday is always my most joyous celebration, this particular season I am proud the concerted efforts to extinguish our democracy by a minority group of fascists has been wholeheartedly rejected by my fellow Americans. The voters of this nation have restored my faith in our ability to self govern. I am proud to witness the endurance of democracy. The 4th of July 2023 holiday should touch everyone’s heart a little more than usual. It will for me, and for this I am also thankful. (Joseph Vallone)

From poet S. J. Miller: “Autumn leaves falling/Winding their way down/Like the first foliage of the first fall/Praise for the colors/Praise with elation/God’s recreation/Eden recalled.” I’m so grateful for the rhythm of life: Divine order. For the diversity we experience in our daily lives and the faith that carries us through. One truth, many paths. (Susan Joy)

The coaches of the Police Athletic League football program, along with the Staples varsity team, having the best year in ages. Big game on Thanksgiving! (Adam Vengrow)

I am thankful for life. I nearly died in 2020. My surgeon told me a year later that he gave me a 1% chance of survival. He told my sister and brothers “She will die.” I had sepsis, and my entire system was crashing. I was intubated, on a feeding tube and God knows what else. I was out of it for 2 months. One of my brothers urged my twin sister to “pull the plug.” The doctors dubbed me the “Miracle at Meriden.” I will spend Thanksgiving by myself, but that’s okay. I usually decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving, which gives me something useful to do. (Barbara Sherburne)

I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful for family, friends, health and home. I’m thankful I’m an American. (Claudia Jensen)

Old friends — and there is double meaning to that. Friendships that go back more than half a century are indeed special. I am also thankful to have spent the second part of my childhood and a significant part of my adult life in a place with so much beauty, along with such wonderful local resources and history. And I am thankful to have had so many wonderful and special teachers and coaches, like Jack Finn at Coleytown Junior High School, who gave a late bloomer like me a chance to blossom and pursue my passion. (Fred Cantor) 

The 1966 Coleytown Junior High School soccer team. Fred Cantor is in the 2nd row, 2nd from left (white shirt); coach Jack Finn is in back.

I’m thinking a lot about how good my life is. A childhood friend just died of a brain tumor. I think about how random it is to get sick, and die. No guarantee for longevity. I have my health, my family, many activities that I enjoy, a satisfying volunteer life. I can’t think of anything that I need or want. I try to help those less fortunate. So my Thanksgiving is a day to reflect, and be grateful for all the blessings in my life (Jalna Jaeger)

For many years I walked most mornings with a close friend, at Old Mill Beach. I’m grateful for all my years in Westport, for the many friends I made, and for the wonderful school system and great teachers. About 3 years ago I was struck with a lung illness that changed my life in a flash. I’m now on oxygen 24/7, and spend most of my time at home. I’m grateful my condo has no steps, and that I have a nice-sized patio. I’m grateful I can have outdoor visitors 8 months a year. Some friends even visit in the winter. I’m grateful for my 2 air purifiers with HIPA filters. I went through a period of denial (believing I would get better), mourning, and am now working on acceptance. I miss traveling home to see childhood friends. I am so grateful that friends and neighbors still stop by to visit. I’m grateful to my part-time helpers, and all the delicious healthy food I can order from The Pantry. Also on my gratitude list are my reflexologist and Pilates/gyrotonic teacher. who come to my home to work with me. (Anonymous)

Our family, including our puppy, our friends, those passed and present, and for my ability to think critically, learned in part at Staples High School. (Charlie Taylor)

I’m thankful for my family, for the new friends I have made this year and the old friends I still have around me. I am thankful for the new generation that has come to Westport to keep us going in the right direction. (Bobbi Essagof)

I’m grateful for the feeling of gratitude itself. It helps me my life in perspective, and to be caring and empathetic to the world around me. (Rindy Higgins)

I am so grateful to have discovered Westport. After having experienced a full life, living in many places in the world, I have settled in a place where I am surrounded by civic-minded, passionate people — farms and farmers’ markets, great dining, and all surrounded by water, with which I have a deep spiritual connection. Thank you Westport, for the many comforting things you offer. (Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

I am profoundly and enduringly grateful to the friend (who we now consider family) whose generosity of spirit motivated him to save my husband Robert’s life by donating his kidney. Robert and I fell in love as teenagers, and just celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. Now we will be able to live, love and grow old together thanks to a living donor who unexpectedly stepped forward without even being asked. Whatever brought us together when he happened to see me crying is a miracle. Forever we will be thankful for this act of kindness, compassion and sacrifice. (Robin Frank)

One response to “We Give Thanks For …

  1. I’m thankful for the 27 wonderful years I had with my beloved husband, Paul Cohen, who passed away on July 2. I will always miss him, but as Dr. Seuss said — “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”