It is that time of year again -- Thanksgiving.

Often it is a time of getting together with family near and far, giving thanks for all that has gone well, and reflecting on the things that we have had to overcome.

Thanksgiving is not a happy time for everyone, and sometimes being with family can be a difficult experience, especially if someone in the family is experiencing a crisis or serious issue.

For other people the holiday season can be a time of loneliness and feeling of alienation; whether because they have had a falling out with family, or their family has mostly passed away. While there are places that offer a Thanksgiving meal in a communal setting for those that are alone, at times it is not enough to overcome the sense that they are all alone in the world.

In times like this it is important to remember that not everyone can go home for Thanksgiving, whether because their home is no longer around, work/school keeps them from having time off, or going home is more stressful than staying at home.

I remember one of the first Thanksgivings I spent away from my family and I was on my own. I was a freshman at the University of Arizona. While I wanted to fly home, it was not long after 9/11 and security measures at the airport were extremely high. Another reason was my physics professor scheduled a major test the Monday after Thanksgiving, which meant that even if I did go home I would mainly be studying and not have enough time for anything else.

So I stayed in my dorm room, and had a little Thanksgiving meal on my own. I accidentally bought a Cornish game hen, thinking it was just a small turkey breast not really knowing the difference. On Thanksgiving I was the only person in my dorm, everyone left for home whether it was far away or in town. I spent the day cooking my Cornish hen, and the few microwaveable sides I bought at the store, spent time in the common room watching football and walked around a very silent campus. The next day local people came back and we hung out and ate leftovers the rest of the weekend. While I was unable to spend time with my family I felt comfortable because I was able to be with good friends and got to know people better.

Other the years I had medical issues that forced me to stay at home, unable to travel to see extended family in the Midwest. These issues also forced me out of a job I had held for years, which forced me to rely on support from my family until I got better, which I slowly did through physical therapy and chiropractic care.

As we gather around the holiday table I ask that you take a moment to reflect. Consider the past year, your accomplishments and things that did not go as well as you might have wanted. Reflect on those that might be struggling in the community -- whether through substance abuse, depression, medical problems, or other issues; and reflect on the coming year and what you wish to accomplish and achieve.

— Kevin Winter

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