Steve Stefanides, is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Contact him by email at

As we begin to close in on the end of another month, I can’t help but reflect on how lucky we are to have the month of November each year in our lives. It truly is a special month for a number of reasons, all of them with special significance.

In the early days of our nation, we would take this time to prepare for the winter ahead. Families would finish harvesting their crops and make sure they were well stocked with provisions, especially those in the colder areas of the country. It truly would be a time for a family to work together and insure everything would be in order, for to fail to do so might lead to devastating consequences.

Myself, I would remember my parents readying the house for the onslaught of what usually would be about six months of challenging weather in New Hampshire. Before the advent of aluminum storm windows, it would be the time of year in which we’d get out the framing out of the garage for the installation of vinyl sheeting on those frames and attach them to our porch to help prevent snow from blowing in.  

The larger wooden storm windows would be attached to the first-floor windows on the house and the second-floor windows would have felt installed to help seal them up from the wintery blasts that came with the season about to descend upon us. I will always remember when we were able to afford new aluminum storm windows and how easy the transition from the warmer days of summer to the chill of winter became and how much warmer our home would become.

It would also be time to install the winter tires on the family car. In those days many of us can remember “studded snow tires,” and stocking up on rock-salt and sand to insure we could keep our driveways and walkways clear of ice. Of course, the use of salt on the roads would seem to easily eat away the sheet metal of the automobiles of the day. Those memories are exactly that, a memory now that many of us have relocated to warmer climates.

However, rather than dwell on some of those thoughts regarding the challenges of winter, I do have some positive reflections regarding November, a month that brings us two very special holidays.

The first of course is Veterans Day. A national holiday that is observed on November 11 each year. It was originally known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I, which at one time was known as the “war to end all wars.”  It unfortunately never lived up to its promise. 

Although the day on which we would celebrate the holiday would change over time, the observance of Veterans Day would be returned to the original November 11th date when President Gerald R. Ford would sign legislation that took effect in 1978. That change was made when pressure was brought about due to the significance of its historic and patriotic roots.

Unlike Memorial Day when we honor those which lost their lives in service to their nation, Veterans Day pays respect to all those men and women who have worn the uniform in service to our nation. For it is through that service to our nation that the blanket of security which citizens sleep under at night is secured, even during peacetime. 

The second special holiday in November is of course Thanksgiving Day, another National Holiday. Although it did not become officially the holiday we know today until Congress passed legislation in 1941, our nation recognized the significance of that first harvest feast in 1621 held between the Wampanoag natives and the pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

It would be Sarah Josepha Hale, a New Hampshire native who would lobby then President Abraham Lincoln as to the significance of the symbolism and importance of declaring a National Day of Thanksgiving annually. Lincoln and all subsequent presidents would do likewise, until the 1941 Congressional actions which would declare Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Each year which goes by I find I have more and more to be thankful for. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had disappointments, all of us have had to shoulder those burdens over time. The loss of family, friends and even a pet can be heartbreaking. We all handle loss in our own way. Some bottle it up inside, while others are more open in their grief or disappointment.

However, as we look around us in this extraordinary place we call home, we should be ecstatic regarding our surroundings. The beauty of our island is a gift from the almighty himself, but it is our responsibility to maintain it, rather than make excuses as to why we can’t protect the fragile nature of it.

The gift of family and friends are another gift which we should be careful not to squander or waste due to petty differences and disagreements. As we all grow older, we cannot help but deal with the loss in both those groups. Celebrate the wonderful gift of both family and friendship, for it has more value as we grow older and come to realize how important it is to surround ourselves with those we love and care for.

As we sit down together, whether it be in our homes, at our favorite restaurants or clubs we should give thanks, for not only those with us, but those that serve us and protect us in the military and our first responders. Because of them we all sleep sounder every evening under that blanket of freedom and security which keeps us warm.

No matter what your beliefs, take a moment to thank the Almighty for what he has bestowed upon us and recommit yourselves to all these wonderful gifts we sometimes tend to take for granted. 

Happy Thanksgiving folks and enjoy your special day. 


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