Over on our Facebook Page, we've been running a contest for several days: tell us what you're thankful for, and the winner will get a free 14-pound hickory smoked turkey prepared by Cowboys Barbecue.
And boy, is Muskogee thankful. We got a lot of good stories, a few sad ones, but mostly, we got a picture of a community that maybe endures a few more hardships than most but keeps its collective head up and looks forward to a more positive future.
Rather than complaining about a granddaughter's illness, Julie Berg Gilbertson said this:
I am also thankful for the care at St. John's PICU. They are taking great care of our grand daughter! I am thankful that she is getting better day by day. Hopefully she will be able to come home for Thanksgiving.
And rather than complaining about the struggles a daughter had to go through to just be normal like other children, Jennifer Rainbolt said this:
I am thankful for my daughter she was born with clubfeet and was treated at Shriners Hospital for children we had to go up there every week for the first eight months of her life she had one surgery and through all the Shriners are there making sure we felt their love and support through the whole process now she walks like a normal child runs in place which wouldn't be possible without the Shriners and my husband was so thankful for their help that he became shiner to help kids like her that's what I'm most thankful for
And then there were the people who were just glad to see other people being thankful and providing perspective:
I don't need the turkey .. Im just thankful that so many people have shared their stories .. You get tears in your eyes reading everyone's stories it makes your own problems seem less than what they are...
Ultimately, the winner was a story of a family divided by a war and 7,000 miles, but thankful to be together existentially. That picture, of a family determined to celebrate the positive things while the husband and father serves his country, ended up resonating the most.
This year, I'm thankful for how Muskogee has supported this site, how you have turned it into what I envisioned almost seven years ago: a news site that gives "just the facts," that respects your time enough to never overwrite a story (current story excepted), that responds to news as it happens. Clearly, that vision was something that Muskogee could agree with, and to date, 45,000 of you on average view this site every day. Thank you, and thank all of you who poured out your stories on our Facebook page. We will be running another contest for Christmas, this one about the funniest family Christmas get-together stories, so be thinking about it!