Readers tell us what they’re thankful for: ‘We can’t be caught up in everything that is not going right that we don’t see the things that are’

If this year were typical, Stanley Ailujann Jordan of Trotwood would celebrate Thanksgiving at one of his seven siblings’ homes with as many as 35 relatives — many of whom would bring a dish or two to share.

His mom would provide the homemade sweet potato pie.

Instead this Thanksgiving his mother, Julia Jordan, is fighting for her life in Miami Valley Hospital against several illnesses. She has tested negative for COVID, but due to restrictions in place to slow its spread, Stanley Jordan said only one family member can see her a day.

“You want to be there for your family members,” he said. “It feels like you are helpless.”

Despite the stress of his mother’s illness, Jordan, who is known better as DJ Skno, is among the many Dayton area residents who say they have looked through the hard times and found reasons to be thankful this holiday season.

“My mom just celebrated her 80th birthday. She had eight children. All of us are still here and doing well,” the Trotwood resident said. " Without my mother and father, I would not be who I am now.”

Jordan is named for both of his parents.

His dad , Stanley G. Jordan, died in 2016 at age 89. His middle name, Ailujann, is his mother’s name spelled backwards plus “Ann.” Jordan, who is clinging to the support of his siblings and wife, Gayle, said his parents gave him far more than their names.

They taught him to be thankful for what you have because there are people who have it much worse.

“Just always be grateful for your parents. They instilled values you can use for the rest of your life,” Jordan said. “You never know when that times will come and God calls somebody home.”


If she had a buck for every time she’s heard the word “unprecedented” this year, Karen Townsend said she’d be a millionaire.

If she had a dollar for each time 2020 has given her reason to fret about a range of topics that include the coronavirus pandemic to political division, she says she could pay off the national debt.

Townsend, president of a Dayton-based training and consulting firm, KTownsend Consulting, said she tries to focus on gratefulness even when it is hard to do so.

Townsend says her family is forgoing an in-person Thanksgiving celebration in Columbus with her mom, 81-year-old Lucy Reynold. But she said she is trying to think about the bigger picture.

Her mother is alive and safe.

“(I am thankful for) the fact that COVID is here and I don’t have it and my sister and her husband had it and recovered,” she said. “We can be caught up in everything that is not going right that we don’t see the things that are.”

Townsend, an author who holds degrees from Kentucky State University, the Ohio State University and the University of Dayton, said it is important that people process feelings related to the stress, sadness and strain that comes with the pandemic. She said it is also key to intentionally find the blessings in big and little things.

Townsend is thankful for her faith, the ear of good friends, advice from a trusted therapist and her go-to treat combination: Ghirardelli brownies and Breyers vanilla bean ice cream.

“I am thankful for the cashiers,” she said. “(They are) checking people out so I can have my Ghirardelli and Breyers.”


Like many, Lisa Balster, Ohio’s Hospice’s director of patient and family support services, said she is tearful when she thinks about the traditions her family will miss because of the pandemic.

Still she says it is important to focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can not.

“There are always things that we still have,” she said during the recent Dayton Daily News Community Conversations: Handling the Hard Times. The town hall discussion can be viewed on

Balster urges people to be more intentional with their words if they can not see friends and relatives this holiday season.

“Call them on the phone and say, ‘I love you. I care about you’ and whatever else it is specifically that you want to say,” Balster said “It really it helps so much. I know it’s helped me to receive some of those warm words.”


Dayton resident Kim Blazinski said in this hard season she is thankful for her great niece, 1-year-old Luna Storm Pesarek, because a “child can make anyone’s day better.”

“It’s hard during these times to be thankful and reflect on what we have rather than what we do not have, what we have control over in our own lives versus what we are leaving up for others to control,” she wrote in response to a Facebook post about thankfulness. “I am thankful that even though I may struggle and get knocked down just a bit, I still see the good in people and can offer my help whether it’s monetary or just a laugh.”

About the Author