Gratitude bountiful this year


First Posted: 11/26/2014

One autumn day in 1621, the Puritans and members of the Wampanoag tribe sat down together at Plymouth Colony for a meal to celebrate the harvest.

The English settlers and the Native Americans sat down together to share deer, corn, shellfish and roasted meat. They offered thanks for the bounty and an optimism they’d survive the cold, hard winter.

In those days, survival was the key. It offers us perspective, when we look at the state of our country and our world. It may not be a utopia yet, but we still have many reasons to be thankful.

• More people are working. According to unemployment figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the number of employed people in Allen County increased to 46,400 in October, its highest level since December 2008 and the dreaded Great Recession. Putnam County is at its highest employment level since November 2008. Auglaize County tied its August number for its highest since August 2008.

• The national economy is doing better than expected. The gross domestic product grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.9 percent in the third quarter, higher than estimates and following a strong second quarter.

• Homes are bigger than ever, and you have more places to go. The average size of a home built last year was 2,600 square feet, an all-time high, according to the Census Bureau. Last year was the first year more houses were built with three bathrooms than with two.

• It’s even safer to live in that house. Crime is down locally and nationally. The number of violent crimes in Lima decreased 9.61 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, according to figures reported to the FBI. The national numbers showed a 4.4 percent decline. Violent crimes in Lima dropped 20.1 percent since 2008, even though the department spent $283,741 less.

• We have more free time than ever before. We’re all busy, but we’re not necessarily working. The typical American has more than five hours a day of free time, according to time surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau and researchers at the University of Maryland and Penn State. Over the course of our lifetime, we’ll typically spend no more than 20 percent of our waking hours on the job, a far cry from the 60-hour weeks waged in Victorian England.

• The NFL teams that most area fans cheer — the Bengals, Browns, Lions and Steelers — all have seven wins in 11 games and realistic playoff hopes. We can’t say that at Thanksgiving very often.

• Ohio State remains in contention for the college football playoffs. The Buckeyes are seventh in the rankings released Tuesday, with the top four playing for a chance at the national championship. Many pundits think the Buckeyes can sneak into that top four if they beat Michigan this week and win the Big Ten championship game next week.

When we look at the life in America in 2014, we realize we have a vast number of reasons to be thankful. We hope you take the opportunity to reflect on your blessings today.