What matters | AspenTimes.com

What matters

It’s an interesting thing about hard times ” they make us all focus on the things that really matter. And so, although many of us will cut costs, skimp on some side dishes or perhaps drink cheaper wine this Thanksgiving, we will also be more likely to appreciate the true meaning of the day.

In a normal year, many of us might eat and drink to our bulging bellies’ content, and we’d certainly gaze around the table at our loved ones and savor the moment. But nothing really brings people together like struggle, and many people ” even in the well-off Roaring Fork Valley ” are struggling. In a general sense, there is less work and less money changing hands. In a very specific sense, many locals are wondering how to pay their rent or their grocery bills. Some have lost jobs.

So, no matter who you are, this Thanksgiving will feel a bit different. It might even feel a bit indulgent to go skiing when tens of thousands of fellow Americans have lost their jobs or their savings.

We’ll give thanks for our family and friends, for the privilege of living in this beautiful place during these remarkable times, for having a community of active, engaged, conscientious residents who look out for each other ” especially when times are tough. We also should remember that, even if winter business is down by 15 or 20 percent, 80 percent or more should remain. We should be thankful for that remainder.

Businesses are scaling back for 2009 and local governments are expecting tax revenues to drop. Hopefully, with smart planning, most local institutions will weather this economic storm. But it may not be so easy for the hundreds of nonprofit and charitable organizations in the valley that provide so many valuable services and depend on the generosity of local donors.

So, as you sit down at the Thanksgiving table this year, please consider all the ways that life in the Roaring Fork Valley has benefited you. Be grateful. And if you can, consider volunteering or making a donation to a local nonprofit.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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