Here are my reasons to be thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. And I think many of us forget why we celebrate this day. In 1777, the first national Thanksgiving day was celebrated. It was to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.

What? I thought it was to get together with your family and eat yourself into a comatose state. And to build up your strength to go shopping the next day. Just kidding. Kind of.

So what am I thankful for?

My mother’s continuing good health. She came through quadruple bypass surgery like a champ in 2007. We made a trip to Japan last year, and again in September. Both trips were for fun. She’s in Japan right now, but that is because her 91-year-old sister died Tuesday evening.

I’m thankful that my cousin Kotoe is doing well after her treatment of breast cancer. In a family of big eaters. her appetite is stuff of legends. And I’m happy to report that she never once lost her appetite during treatment.

Of course, I’m thankful for my family, even though they sometimes get on my nerves. But I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

Then there are my friends who have stuck with me for so long. You know who you are.

Here are some other things I’m thankful for:

The arts community in the area. It’s vibrant and thriving, even in this tough economy. That means to me that people in our area think the arts are important.

The RiverCenter for the Performing Arts continue to bring both popular programs like the Broadway series, as well as more serious classical artists like Emanuel Ax, who will be in the Bill Heard Theatre on Feb. 4.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra always presents interesting programs. Conductor and music director George Del Gobbo slips in music by new composers, which I always find interesting.

Against all odds, the Springer Opera House is gaining new audiences with almost every show. Producing artistic director Paul Pierce credits Ron Anderson’s thoughtful, inclusive Springer Children’s Theater for much of that growth. With all the young people enrolled in that program, it’s no wonder the kids bring in their families. Ron, of course, is the director of the Springer Theater Academy and the Springer Children’s Theater.

Troy Heard, the artistic director of the Chattahoochee Shakespeare Co., is struggling. It’s always difficult to start a new theater, and in these times, it’s even more challenging. But as always, he’s bringing new works to Columbus and that’s always great. Next month, be sure to check out “The Santaland Diaries.” I had read the story, written by David Sedaris, before I saw the play. I love both. It’s about Sedaris’ experience playing one of Santa’s helpers at Macy’s. It’s hilarious.

If you haven’t been to the Columbus Museum, shame on you. I hear people saying that they’d been there when they were kids. Excuse me? The exhibits change every six weeks or so. If you were a kid the last time you went to the museum, you probably won’t even recognize the place.

While I’m at it, more people who live outside our area go to the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus than we do. The history museum is filled with artifacts from both sides of the war. The brand-new replica of the USS Water Witch is amazing. It’s even open today. So what are you waiting for?

The Liberty Theatre always offers interesting programs. Talk about new works. It’s sad to see the place half-empty when the productions are so good.

And then there’s Columbus State University’s fine arts campus. The theater department presents plays I’ve never heard of. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good. They are. The students get to perform in new shows that you won’t see on the Springer stage. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The art department features all sorts of exhibits and lectures. And with a practically new faculty, the students are excited and producing incredible work. There is almost a concert every night of the week featuring either students or faculty at the Schwob School of Music.

Sure, we’ve all had to cutback because of the economy. But if you really want to see any of the arts activities, there are ways.

If you volunteer to usher, you can see the shows for free.

At the Springer, volunteer to help build a set and you’ll get two tickets.

Fortunately, most of the Schwob School of Music concerts are free. These are world-class musicians playing in faculty recitals.

So get out and support these arts’ groups. You won’t be sorry.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day!

ContactSandra Okamotoat 706-571-8580.