Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on the blessings in our lives.
This past year has been particularly joyful for me, both professionally and personally.
Since this newspaper is such a big part of my life, I want to share with you the top 10 reasons Thanksgiving is especially meaningful to me this year.
I want to thank all of the readers of The Laker/Lutz News for embracing our new, bigger size. We took a leap of faith in August, changing our format to match the size of most daily newspapers.
Besides becoming 30 percent bigger overnight, we added a B section to give us a second front page, and to organize our classified products.
I confess I was more than a bit nervous about making such a significant change and taking on the additional expenses that came along with it. But taking risks comes with ownership, and it’s the only way to grow.
Four months into this change, we continue to receive positive comments — almost daily — about our new size.
A huge thank you goes to my staff of 12. I am ever so thankful to this group of professionals who meet challenging deadlines every week.
Think about it: How many business owners ask their staff to create a brand new product every week? But this is what my staff does — writing stories, taking pictures, selling and creating ads, and then putting it all together to fill typically 24 very big pages of stories and advertisements.
This requires an unbelievable amount of talent, commitment and hard work. Our staff box on Page 3A does not begin to give my employees enough recognition for the work they to do to bring you one of the best community newspapers in the state.
The newspaper we produce each week is possible because of the support we receive from our advertisers. They recognize that we offer an excellent vehicle to let patrons know about the services and products they offer.
My son Andy’s safe return
My son, Andrew Mathes, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, returned home at the end of May after seven months in Afghanistan. There is no greater gratitude that a mother can have than knowing her child is away from harm’s way.
Andy and Erin’s renewed wedding vows
Andy and his wife Erin, who were married a week before Andy’s deployment last November, renewed their wedding vows a year later — on Nov. 8 — at the church where Erin grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Only nine family members were present when Andy and Erin married in a military chapel in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. When they renewed their vows, more than 150 family and friends traveled from across the country to be there.
My nine brothers and sisters
I am grateful, always, for my nine brothers and sisters. But it was especially touching to see all of them at Andy’s and Erin’s renewal of vows.
Most of my family lives in Minnesota — a five- to six-hour drive to Appleton. But they were all there, as were many of Andy’s cousins, despite an approaching winter storm and the fact that the wedding was on the same day as opening of deer hunting season in Minnesota.
My daughter Rachel’s graduation and new job
My beautiful daughter, Rachel Mathes, graduated from Stetson University in May and is working as an art teacher in Jacksonville. It’s hard to say whether I’m more grateful for Rachel graduating from college in four years and landing a job in her field, or for the fact that I am no longer paying tuition.
When Rachel was born I felt so blessed to have a daughter, and that gratitude deepens with each passing year. I only wish that Jacksonville was closer to Land O’ Lakes so we could see each other more often.
My father, Don Kortus
Dad will be 86 in February, and his love for his family — which consists of more than 45 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — holds us all together.
I am thankful for Dad’s wisdom, good health, sharp mind, and unwavering support for me.
Jonas, my 9-year-Airedale terrier, is a cancer survivor, and I am thankful he will be my companion for many more years.
After being diagnosed with cancer in August 2013, his prognosis was poor because dogs with his type of cancer rarely live longer than a few months.
But after having a tumor on his spleen removed, he recovered so well that he underwent chemotherapy and is now in remission.
Finally, I am thankful for finding love the second time around.
When I opened my heart to love again, I met Vic Anthony, who has had my back these past three years. Sharing with Vic the pleasures and challenges of my family, my business, and my dog Jonas, has renewed my spirit and brought me much happiness.
See this story in print: Click Here