As we round out our Thanksgiving weekend, which certainly was an unusual one with all of the pandemic protocols, we hopefully all have done some reflecting on the many blessings that we do have.

The list of things to be thankful for is very long and most of the items, in my opinion, are ones that we generally take for granted. One of those is our freedom – freedom of speech, religion, and the freedom to do most anything we want as long as we aren’t harming anyone.

I’m so glad that my parents came to America in the early 1950s from Germany to the land of freedom and opportunity – for them it would be the opportunity to farm and eventually to own a farm. They met in West Germany after World War II, both having narrowly escaped from Russian-occupied Germany. They became engaged while in Germany when Dad got several responses from an ad that he ran in an American farming magazine looking for someone to sponsor him on a farm in America. He arrived in 1950 and my mother followed in 1952. They got married in 1953. They had to work off their sponsorships and eventually were able to operate a small dairy farm on shares for the owner/president of the then Bank of Le Roy.

In 1962, when I was only 2, my parents bought the farm that we live on still today. That farm has been such a blessing to our family. The dream of owning their own farm had come true and they were raising three children while working hard and enjoying their freedom.

Those days of growing up on the farm were memorable ones as we all worked together milking and feeding the cows and growing and harvesting the crops.

While growing up on the farm, Mom and Dad instilled in us an appreciation of the farm, their lifestyle, and their values. We grew up with so many German traditions – especially around Christmastime – and they always loved Thanksgiving.

As a youngster, I just loved the outdoors and the big wide-open farm where I could roam all over. Mom and Dad also loved nature and God’s great creation which somehow trickled down into me. I became interested in birds and all things nature and enjoyed all of it as I grew up working on the farm before and after school. The love of birds and nature remains with me today as I enjoy sharing my passion with you through my column in The Daily News.

So here we are with 2020 winding down a very interesting and challenging year in many respects. Unfortunately, we have lost so many loved ones to the pandemic and we still need to protect our most sensitive and prone friends and relatives. It will be a year we remember for a long time and one that many will want to forget. Still, challenges will lie ahead for us and this great country of ours as we move forward. I’m concerned for our country’s safety, freedom, and financial woes, but at the same time I’m so thankful for the many many blessings that we do have.

I hope that we can all work together to keep our great country the shining star that it is. I’m so thankful for so much, that I don’t know how to begin thanking God – or where to stop thanking God – when I say my prayers. We are so blessed with this beautiful world full of nature, including the birds of course!

So, in this season of Thanksgiving, appropriately heading toward Christmas, let’s all be humbly thankful for what we have in our lives and let us be mindful of those who are in need.

Hans Kunze is an avid birder and nature enthusiast who has been writing about birds and nature for more than 30 years. He writes for the The Daily News twice each month. Write him at 6340 LaGrange Rd Wyoming, NY 14591 or call (585) 813-2676.

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