Friday, November 25, 2011

NEWS: In hard times, Americans still thankful

By Emanuella Grinberg, originally posted on CNN.com Nov 24, 2011

Clockwise from left: Linda Moses' family, Jannet Walsh, 
Egberto Willies, Ethel Marie Chadwick, Pelon Mercer.

(CNN) -- This Thanksgiving holiday, Linda Moses is thankful just to be alive.

The 54-year-old Texas woman was in a car crash in August with her son, his pregnant wife and a family friend. They were on their first family vacation together in the coastal area of Rockport when a texting driver veered into their lane and hit her son's Chevy Tahoe head-on.

Everyone survived, including the driver of the other car. But their struggles were far from over.

Moses lost her job when she was unable to immediately return to work while recovering from a cracked sternum and ribs. Her son, Ryan, lost part of his right leg, ending his dream of entering the National Guard, a few weeks before he would have started basic training. His wife, Courtney, went into labor in September, almost four months early.

It's been rough, Moses said, but amid the trauma, brights spots are starting to emerge. Her son received a prosthetic leg Wednesday and he starts physical therapy next week. Little Kaileigh, Moses' first grandchild, has grown from 1 pound 10 ounces to 3 pounds 8 ounces in two months. Her parents held her for the first time last week and posed for a picture that Moses submitted to CNN iReport.

"Just the fact we're all alive and that we survived despite the accident is a blessing," she said. "And to have Kaileigh -- they didn't give her much of a chance to live, and now she's 2 months old. We have a lot to be thankful for."

Despite a year of economic, political and social turmoil, many Americans didn't have to dig hard to find something they were grateful for on this most thankful day of the year. Among the submissions to CNN iReport's "what are you thankful for?" assignment, common themes emerged: gratitude for family, pride in being American and relief at having a job.

Jean Lindsay is especially thankful for the opportunity to be able to work from her home in Geneseo, New York.

"As an older worker, trying to get to work outside my home is stressful in extreme heat or cold of winter; costs additional time and money to drive to another location; and is hazardous in negotiating snow and ice in winter," the 70-year-old iReporter said.

Luckily, she was able to find a job as a customer service representative, working from the comfort of a desk in her dining room. She works about 25 hours a week without paid vacation time or benefits. But at her age, it's better than nothing, she said.

"I am truly grateful for companies that have a work from home component and I have seen first hand how it has benefited not only so many workers with disabilities, etc. but has benefited the company as well in garnering really dedicated workers."

Not everyone's as lucky as Lindsay. But with unemployment rates hovering around 9% since the summer, Jannet Walsh is grateful just to be receiving unemployment insurance.

The 47-year-old photojournalist was laid off in September from her job with a newspaper in Minnesota. She had worked there for 11 months after moving from Florida to care for her mother, who died in October.

This will be her first Thanksgiving without her mother or father, but at least she'll be spending it with family, she said.

It's hard to stay positive with each rejection letter that comes in, she said. To keep her mind occupied, she edits video she shot on a trip to Ireland this year.

"That's the best medicine for times like these, to be as creative as possible," she said. "I'm ready, willing and able to go back to work. I'm also very hopeful I'll find an even better job than I was laid off from."

As bad as the political and economic landscape in this country might seem, iReporter Egberto Willies said there's nowhere else he'd rather be.

"I am thankful to be in America and all those in America should be, too," said Willies, a naturalized citizen who moved to Texas from Panama in 1979 to attend the University of Texas-Austin. "Everyone in America has the ability to make a difference. I have the ability to make a difference."

Many iReporters were grateful for the support of family through layoffs, illness and financial hardship. But the small things on a day-to-day basis went a long way, too.

"During this holiday season, I am thankful that I am loved and that I have an opportunity to give love," said Ethel Marie Chadwick, a part-time office administrator and radio show host from Scottsville, New York.

"I thank God that I have three wonderful adult children who are kind, compassionate and affectionate, and also for my loving husband who warms me up when I am cold, who rubs my back when I can't sleep, who cheers me up when I am sad and encourages me when I feel discouraged," Chadwick said.

Moses said she isn't sure she would have made it through the past few months since the car crash without her son and daughter-in-law. And she's not sure how they've done it, either. She credits her son's positive attitude with keeping the family hopeful.

"We've been through so much. But if we can still find the blessings, I hope we'll inspire others to get through the hard times."

Word List:
  • coastal = on land beside a sea
  • to veer = to suddenly move in a different direction
  • head-on = if two vehicles crash head-on, the front of one vehicle hits the front of the other
  • to struggle = to try hard to do something that you find very difficult
  • cracked = a line or long narrow hole appears on its surface, but it does not break into pieces
  • sternum = the flat bone in the middle of your chest. Also called the 'breastbone.'
  • basic training = the initial indoctrination and instruction given to new military personnel,
  • amid = if something happens amid particular feelings or events, it happens while people have these feelings or while these events are happening
  • rough = difficult
  • to emerge = to stop being involved in a difficult situation or period of time
  • prosthetic = used for replacing a missing body part
  • turmoil = a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty.
  • to negotiate = to successfully travel on a road or path that is difficult to travel on or travel through
  • to garner = to collect or obtain a large amount of something useful or important
  • hovering = to be at or near a particular level without changing muc
  • to be laid off = someone’s employment is ended, especially temporarily, because there is not enough work for them
  • rejection letter = a refusal to accept someone for a job or course of study
  • naturalized = officially become a citizen of a country in which they were not born
  • to inspire = to give someone the enthusiasm to do or create something
  • hard times = difficult times