Guest Editorial: A Thanksgiving message

Larry Olson
Thanksgiving? Hmmm. Everyday, each of us has a lot for which to be thankful. However, Thanksgiving (the holiday), pushes us to dig deep into how blessings have helped our existence.
Allow me to share a central blessing among many that I continue to enjoy. It centers on a 50th anniversary I celebrated Nov. 7. On that date in 1969 – 50 years ago – I quit smoking cigarettes “cold turkey.” I was 30.
Back then I was assistant city editor at the La Crosse, Wis., Tribune, and I assigned myself to write a story with a local slant on the importance of the Great American Smokeout, held the third Thursday of November to invite smokers to go without their “smokes” for that day. Perhaps with a brief taste of freedom from this nasty habit, they would grasp the great benefits of a smoke-free life.
While I had quit smoking for only a few days at that writing, I was gung-ho to have my community join me in what was to become a very difficult endeavor. I would have no way of knowing who/how many souls would become part of my reformation. In retrospect, this didn’t really matter. But at work, I would crusade for my workplace and its staff members to follow my lead. I’m sure to some this was to the point of ad nauseum.
What matters to me is that I have remained smoke-free, and I am convinced my determination to ditch the weed is what has brought me into my 80s in very good health. My father and a brother lost their lives to emphysema and related causes. How I wish their smoking habits had not eventually taken them.
Yes, becoming smoke-free has blessed me with good health, clean air for my family, and a dollar savings of many, many thousands during this half-century.
I have not been successful at this without help. I prayed that I would be delivered from this curse. And I am lucky to have a supportive spouse and two fine sons. Our eldest son, Brett, then age 4, asked me: “Daddy, why do you smoke? The TV says it’s not good for you.” I am glad that children say “the darnedest things.” Mostly, they are spot-on.
My wife, Betty, has never – ever – been a smoker. And I believe that we have been good examples to our sons. Now into their early 50s, Brett and his younger brother, Cory, have never – ever – taken up the habit.
Blessings come in many ways. Will you join me in taking the time to count yours?
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Larry Olson is a 1957 graduate of Alcester High School and a 1965 graduate of the University of South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree in editorial journalism. His career has taken him to several newspaper editorial and corporate consultation positions.


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