As Thanksgiving nears, the news seems full of woes. Each day, the cable news channels trumpet the latest dire prognosis for yet another corporate giant. The global economy is in turmoil, with the U.S. economy leading the charge to the brink. Meanwhile, the little people watch their 401ks, if they have them, and count their pennies as fuel and food costs vie for priority.

It's a tough backdrop for a holiday based on counting one's blessings.

Certainly, no place in Oregon could claim a tougher economy right now than the counties of Northeastern Oregon. Our recession started early with the setbacks for the timber industry; the global and state economic news seems almost like piling on. In another locale, people might feel defeated.

Yet look at the turnout of local folks at recent community events to brainstorm ways to make our business economy and our forest industry viable. Such sessions draw packed houses and provoke serious dialogue about solutions, not whining about bad breaks. Rural Oregon is not a place for people who need handouts - or who cut and run. That kind of resilience is a blessing that will help sustain our communities in the long run.

In Wallowa County, we also are blessed by the generosity of the people here, who fill the calendar each November and December with fund-raisers and food and toy drives to help our neighbors in the local area and people abroad. Our churches send packages to soldiers, our civic groups bring cheer to hospital patients and others, and our schoolchildren help handout the mountains of collected canned goods for the needy.

This year is no exception. With the needs expected to be greater than usual, local folks are responding with even greater heart, and that's a blessing indeed.

Lastly, we are blessed to live in an area of such natural beauty, where mountain vistas, clean rivers and streams, and glimpses of wildlife are so commonplace, we tend to forget that other people just don't live this way.

If you need a reminder of what a blessing that is, turn off CNN or take a break from the football games this Thursday. Take a walk in the fresh, crisp air and shake off those worldly cares.

It's Thanksgiving, and we have much to be thankful for.

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