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November 25, 2015

A.J. Watson
(334) 613-4219

Families around the country will gather in living rooms, at dinner tables and with friends and family to give thanks for God's blessings.

The sound of echoing laughter, the smell of a harvest feast and the feeling of late autumn’s chilly embrace create the recipe for the American tradition of Thanksgiving.

Across Alabama, both farmers and non-farmers will sit down to a meal and give thanks for their families and God’s bounty, but the reasons for being thankful are as diverse as America itself.

“I’m thankful for family and the country we live in,” said Randolph County Farmers Federation board member Scotty Noles. “I’m also thankful for farmers. Without them we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedoms our country has.”

Alabama Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, like Noles, said she’s thankful to have the freedom to share hospitality and goodwill with her family.

“I’m thankful to live in a country where, even as bad as things may seem, we are able to worship freely, pray in public and live our lives as we please,” Beech said. “Each day I’m thankful to wake up and help make a difference in the world. We’re here to be kind to everybody and take care of each other. I’m thankful my parents brought me up in that environment, and I’m thankful I get to share that outlook with my family now.”

Eric O. Cates, a 97-year-old farmer, former Alabama legislator, WWII and Korean War veteran and retired Farm Service Agency director, said all the things he’s seen and experienced pale in comparison to his family.

“You look back over your life, and your family is absolutely the best thing to be thankful for,” said Cates, a Butler County Farmers Federation board member. “They’re all strong physically, mentally, financially and spiritually, so we’ll be all smiles tomorrow.”

Lauderdale County farmer James Walker recorded some of the highest yields in his family’s 190-year farming history, which he said will make the time with his family a little sweeter.

“I’m thankful for the bountiful harvest we had—that’s a farmers mentality,” he said.

Walker said he’s looking forward to going hunting with his father and two oldest sons.

“It’s something I cherish,” he said. “There will come a day when I won’t be able to do it, and I want to hold on to that memory.”

Inside the walls of Alfa Insurance’s headquarters in Montgomery, employees like Audrey Mays are grateful to work for a company that represents their values.

“I’m thankful for my family and my job,” said Mays, Marketing Services executive administrative assistant. “Working for a company that cares about my well-being and having co-workers who are more like family is important to me.”

Mays said she’s also thankful for loyal Alfa customers, one of whom is small business owner Kerry Mitchell of Guntersville.

“A lot of times people get down, but we try to remember we have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and cars to drive,” said Mitchell, who runs a used car dealership. “Our daughter is due Jan. 24, and we found out she’s having a baby boy with Down syndrome. He’s healthy, and he’s growing like he’s supposed to, so we’re excited and that makes us count our blessings a little more with a special needs grandchild.”

Grace Smith Ellis, Alabama Ag Credit’s director of marketing and public relations, said the newest addition to her family, infant daughter Anna Grace, helped soothe the loss of her mother.

“She’s named after my mother, who passed away seven years ago,” she said. “My daughter was born a week and a half early, which happened to be on the anniversary of my mom’s death. It changed one of the worst days on my calendar into one of the best days of the year.”

When asked about what she’s most thankful for, Ellis, like the others, said “God, family and friends.

“Looking at other places in the world, I don’t know if those are common answers anymore,” Ellis said. “I think it’s such a blessing to hear those common answers, and having a new baby, I think we have a responsibility to pass those same values on to her.”

Keeping with the spirit of the season, follow the Alabama Farmers Federation on Facebook and Twitter and tell us what you’re thankful for.

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