ON MY MIND: Thinkin’ thankful

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

There are so many things to be grateful for in our blessed lives. One I have thought of lately is living in a small town. I love it.

The other day I left my car at Larry’s Body Shop on Clay and Fairplains to be repaired.

I then walked up Clay to meet a friend for breakfast at Drake’s restaurant. As I walked along enjoying the lovely homes and fall color, I was really in the moment. A door opened and George Gianacakos stuck his head out of his business and yelled, “What are you doing walking by?” We laughed and discussed how they had a lot of big dogs in that neighborhood and the owners must not have gotten the memo about picking up their doggie doo doo.

This is a friendly area. This is a caring area. This area offers a lot of culture and down homeness. Is that a word? It is now.

I have lived in Madrid, population 3.2 million. I have lived in Lansing, population 113,000. I have lived in Grand Rapids, population 190,000. These numbers are approximate. I have lived in the country, not even in a town. They were all okay and I liked them. But, living in Greenville, population 8,400, with the surrounding area adding to that number nicely seems just about right.

It was a great place to raise a family. It is a great area to retire, though I haven’t done that yet.

It is a great place to make a difference. There is something everyone can do to make something better here. Volunteerism thrives. Oh, let me offer here my congratulations to Dan Eagles who just got a statewide volunteer award. He exemplifies all the many, many volunteers in this area.

Recently I have had people in Grand Rapids rave about their experiences in Greenville: anniversary dinners at The Winter Inn and The Brew Pub; getaway trips at the AmericInn; family fall festivities at Klackle Orchards and Anderson Girls; kids who experienced their first parade ever at our Danish Festival; friends who came here just to ride our fabulous trails. This list could go on and on and on. We’ve got something special here and West Michigan knows it.

I get irritated when the major news channels run news on our county. So often it is quoting someone in a bar or someone who looks really, let’s say “iffy.” I asked a WOTV camera man once when he was filming here, “Why do you always have to make us look so bad?” He agreed. When we have so much to offer positively, it is sad to be slanted publicly in a negative way.

Another thing I love about living here is how readers come up to me wherever I go. They offer praise, ideas for me to write about, fun anecdotes and quotes. Gerry Malling came searching for me at Meijer today. He found me in the check-out and told me he had seen a great bumper sticker I could use. “My mother is a travel agent. She does guilt trips.”

So many of you email me about my column and I am truly grateful. When I write, I write alone. I often think, ‘is this valid, is this worthy, is this stupid’? You know how we are when left to our own inner dialogue. I turn my column in. I still wonder. When I hear from one of you, I can’t tell you how it makes my day and week. We writers need positive feedback to go on, just like everyone else does. Thanks for all your notes, comments, calls and emails.

Thanks, too, to Barb Steffe who brought me an empty blue wine bottle to stick on my “tree” when I wrote about it. Thanks to Joyce London who gave me notes with my name on when I wrote about never being able to find anything with my name on it. I could go on. People in this area are generous, kind and caring. They make it such a wonderful place to live.

As we eat turkey and are thankful, let’s not overlook the blessing of living in this area with all these good people. It is easy to think about what we have. Just as important is where we are and who is there with us. I thank God I am here and you are too. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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