We're grateful for things in our control and beyond

This week we're thankful for things we can control -- and for things we can't.

Try as we might, we still don't control the weather. We can, however, control our reactions to wind storms or falling snow.

We're also grateful for traditions that bring smiles to the Mid-Columbia and for community safety nets when those smiles are hard to come by.

A white Christmas

We don't depend on snow in the Mid-Columbia to keep next year's watershed full -- snow in the Cascades, yes; Kennewick, not so much.

But there was something magical about the white stuff coming down on Christmas Day.

So we were thankful for a perfect weather situation this week: Christmas Eve -- bright and sunny for last-minute running around; Christmas day -- actual snow; the day after -- melting and clear roads.

Christmas generosity

We're also thankful for people who serve the meals at the Union Gospel Mission and other shelters. We're thankful for groups and organizations that hold a coat or toy drive.

We're grateful for neighbors who are thoughtful and generous and friendly.

Many people find satisfaction in doing a good deed or two in December.

We appreciate all of those acts of kindness -- big and small.

And, as a reminder, there are 364 other days in the year for people who are in need.

Community presentations

We're also grateful for the community pageants and traditions this time of year. Some of them are for a fee like, Cathedral of Joy's Living Nativity or First Night (a great way to ring in the New Year if you're still looking for something to do). Others are a gift to the community like Senske's musical light show or Desert Plateau's luminaria display (which this year tangled with Mother Nature during a rainstorm).

There are too many events to mention each one here, but we are grateful for the many sights and sounds of the season that are presented in the Mid-Columbia.

Transitional housing

The new year is all about change. Many of us want to improve our health or financial situation.

Elijah Family Homes helps families do that -- on a dramatic scale.

We're not talking about losing a few pounds. This program helps people who are recovering from addictions and gives them the opportunity for real change.

It helps people who want to turn their lives around and are willing to prove it. The program provides housing and teaches life skills, like budgeting.

We all make mistakes. Let's be supportive to anyone who is trying to move past theirs.

Crisis Response Unit

There are not a lot of Christmas carols written about the emotional struggle and strain some people feel at Christmastime.

While everyone is singing about peace on Earth and joy to the world, there can be a very real, and sometimes hard-to-address, feeling of despair.

We're grateful for the folks at the Crisis Response Unit who provide help for those who are hurting and education for their friends and family so we know what a red flag looks like.

Understanding is the first step -- in almost every case.

Crosswalk cat

Actually, we don't think a cat sitting on a curb is going to prevent a traffic accident or be much help if a car and a pedestrian get in each other's way.

We do, however, see a benefit to therapy animals. We also see value in teaching children to respect and care for animals.

So we're grateful for Sable the crossing cat in West Richland.

Pets make us better people. There is a healing balm in petting a cat, walking a dog or watching birds.