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Holly Johnson: Expressing gratitude for what we got

I would love to start this column offering you wishes for a nice Thanksgiving week filled with family, friends, and fun, but the current state of our world does not allow for an abundance of those things in 2020.

However, I do feel thankful for many things despite the pandemic and I hope you do as well.  I am grateful that my family and friends have remained healthy or have been healed from a recent illness.  I am grateful to have a creative and passionate team of co-workers and volunteers, board members, donors, and program partners to help guide the Hormel Historic Home through this uncertain time. And, I am filled with gratitude for the many who are performing jobs in healthcare and government that are aimed at keeping us all safe and for teachers working to educate students in challenging environments.

George Hormel also expressed his gratitude for the things he held dear.

George wrote of his wife, Lillian: “Of New England descent, she brought into our partnership a love of music and books, rare sympathy and good sense, an understanding of human nature, and the great patience necessary to surmount the problems and uncertainties of our first years together.”

He appreciated this community that gave him a chance.  “The little town of Austin, Minnesota, came nearest my idea of where I should like to locate. It was small — around 3,000 — very active and growing. Although it was not much to look at in the 1880’s when its streets, lighted by smoking coal oil lamps, were quagmires in wet weather and ankle-deep in dust in summer, and the courthouse square was a tangle of hazel brush, I liked the people and the countryside.”

George felt grateful for his family in Ohio.  In a letter home in 1887 he wrote, “No doubt, I realize the wonderful change in the family as it grows older, more than any other member of it; and you ought to be proud of one another. I am sure I am very proud indeed of you all. How fortunate you are to be all together. I envy you all and only wish I could be with you also.”

Of his son, Jay, George seemed grateful for the opportunity to have raised him and watch him grow into a fine man.  “My major satisfaction is that I have watched my son carry into practical demonstration the basic principles which my father held so dear, and himself put into practice wherever opportunity offered – as I in my way have tried to do, likewise.”

George Hormel lived through many ups and downs, but through each period he lived a humble life acutely aware of all the blessings around him. We can do the same and be even more grateful this year that no one has told us we have to stay six feet away from the refrigerator. 

Upcoming Events

History’s Sweet Reads Book Discussion, Final Week

5-6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 23

“The Open Road,” Autobiography of George A. Hormel

Sponsored by the Hormel Historic Home and Sweet Reads Book Store. Join virtually. All sessions recorded so participants can join at any time. Pre-registration required on the website or by calling the Hormel Historic Home. $5 per session. Register at www.hormelhistorichome.org

Self-guided holiday home tours

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday–Friday

$5 per person, free for members