Our View: What we’re thankful for this year

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What are you thankful for? (Courtesy Photo)
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Practiced gratitude is a psychological approach that has been shown to increase happiness. We feel better when we focus on positive things, for which we are grateful, rather than wallowing in what we dislike and may be powerless to control.

The phrase “make it a good day” is a similar mindset, an acknowledgment that while we don’t control everything that happens to us, we do control our reactions.

Those with regular prayer disciplines have long known the benefits of giving thanks each morning, evening or before a meal. As the old hymn goes, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done …” The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving almost 400 years ago, just may have been on to something.

There are many blessings we’re grateful for at the Alexandria Times. Below is our top five Thanksgiving list for 2017. We would also love to hear what you, our readers, are most grateful for this year.
A sense of community remains one of Alexandria’s defining characteristics.

Never was this more evident than in the aftermath of the shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in June. Neighbors in Del Ray and beyond spontaneously began bringing food and water to police and other emergency responders. The evening of the shooting, many residents gathered for a community walk. A memorable rededication ceremony was held the following Tuesday, June 20. Residents and Little Leaguers from across the city gathered to “take back our field” as the t-shirts said, following the tragedy.

Alexandria is also blessed to have institutions of all kinds that last. The Departmental Progressive Club just celebrated its 90th anniversary, while St. Paul’s Nursery and Day School has been providing early childhood education for 70 years. Restaurants Evening Star in Del Ray and Chadwicks in Old Town also celebrated milestone anniversaries, while nonprofit Community Lodgings has been working to provide affordable housing in Alexandria for 30 years. Continuity, camaraderie and good works flow from long-lasting institutions.

In this space we have been known to state our opposition to policies being pursued by our city leaders, but we are also grateful for the many things our local government does well, and for the employees who work hard to provide good service. A small example of this was observed near the Times office last week, as a city worker walked along blowing fallen leaves from the sidewalk to the street, followed soon after by another worker who vacuumed up the leaves. It was efficient and impressive.

We are grateful for innovative collaboration between a church, a nonprofit housing provider and the city that resulted in the planned construction of 113 affordable housing units on the property of Church of the Resurrection in Alexandria’s West End. Creative problem solving of this sort will be increasingly needed as scarce resources abut constant needs.

We give thanks for Alexandria’s strong and growing small business community. We can all help strengthen our city’s economic backbone by shopping locally year-round – not just during the holidays.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week with the attendant feasting, gathering with loved ones and observing traditions, it’s useful to remember that such festivities are not only fun: They’re also good for us. And remember to give thanks for the good things in the city we call home.

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