In awe of this beautiful land

Every flower, sunset, patch of woods is a wonder
Jan Koch at her Shawano Lake home
Greg Mellis | NEW Media

Every November, we celebrate the historic event in which the pilgrim colonists invited the Wampanaog Indians to an autumn harvest feast. The pilgrims wanted to show their gratitude for the guidance they had received from the Wampanaog as they tried to grow crops in an unfamiliar land.

Since Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863, the United States has had a day set aside to giving thanks. This holiday gives us a chance to examine our lives and what we are thankful for.

I appreciate that there were and continue to be men and women who want our county to be a place where we can enjoy so many freedoms. When our democracy has been challenged, these brave individuals have done what they had to do to preserve our system of government.

As Americans, we can express differing opinions without fear. We have a free press in which journalists are free to do research and report news based on what they have found. The pilgrims came here so they could worship the way they wanted. We have freedom to choose the religion we wish to follow.

We can use technology to learn about history, different cultures, and our own interests. We are free to connect with friends and family instantly and share pictures or use Facetime whenever we want.

I am also in awe of this beautiful land that we call home. Every colorful sunset over the lake, every flower that opens in summer, every dense woods plot is a wonder that I am thankful for. I never want to take anything for granted.

On a more personal note, I am thankful that my husband, Chuck, and I have had a friendship for the past 48 years of marriage. After raising our two sons and retiring, we have had the means to travel. I’m grateful that he accompanied me on trips from Washington to California and from Virginia to Florida in addition to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico and cruising in Alaska. We have also ventured to Europe and now take cruises in the Caribbean.

There is so much history and culture that exists all over the world that I want to learn about. I have eaten many different foods since traveling. I’m always surprised when I see food from all over the world appearing in local grocery stores. I think it shows how interconnected we are with the rest of the earth because of advances in packaging, refrigeration and transport. I want to keep on learning and having new adventures as long as I can.

Good health is something that should not be taken for granted. I have been fortunate to have needed few trips to the doctor. I am thankful to live in a time in history when there have been medical advances that have helped people with all kinds of medical conditions. My husband will soon join the many individuals that have found relief from hip pain when he has his upcoming surgery. Thanks to Medicare, he will only have to pay a small amount of the cost.

I have always had a soft spot for children and that was one of the reasons I chose teaching as a career. Having three grandchildren has been a joy and I enjoy their presence whenever they come to visit. I always look forward to the week they spend with us each summer.

Friends are important to me. The various organizations I belong to have put me in contact with some wonderful people. I always look forward to seeing them and having an opportunity to share what is going on in each other’s lives.

Thanksgiving time is family time at our house. Beginning with the opening day of deer hunting to Thanksgiving Day, I am able to share in the excitement of the guys’ hunt.

The week culminates with a delicious meal, which is shared with Chuck’s brother, his son, his daughter and his granddaughter, in addition to their cousin.

This is always a special time for the family to come together and reflect on how fortunate we all are to have each other.



Jan Koch is the chair of the Shawano County Democratic Party