It's the Friday before Thanksgiving... Here's what I'm thankful for

In this week's installment of "Friday 5," Emma Vatnsdal shares five things she is thankful for this Thanksgiving (and every day).

iStock / Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD — Howdy!! Welcome back to the best part of the week, the "Friday 5" column!

In last week's column , I mentioned five reasons we shouldn't forget about what I can comfortably say is my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving, in case anyone forgot) in favor of Christmas. I still stand by my column. And some people stand with me even.

Here in the newsroom, I rarely get phone calls to my desk that are positive. Generally, people like to point out how dumb I am or how what I am doing is illegal or that I need to go back to journalism school. I mean, that's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will absolutely listen to your opinion — even if they sting a bit. However, every now and again, I get a phone call that makes me happy I picked up the phone.

It's happened a couple times to me — one being a very kind woman who recognized my rather unique last name and hometown and told me she attended teacher training back in the day with my late grandpa. She made me tear up and I think about that call often. This week, I received a call from a reader who just wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed my column last week.

It gave me the warm fuzzies. (And a bit of a shock... You mean people are ACTUALLY reading my ramblings?!)


Nonetheless, I am grateful for everyone who even takes a second to glance over my work. Hearing about people enjoying it really warms my heart and helps to reiterate that I chose the right career path. Thank you all so so much.

In the spirit of warm fuzzies, I have decided that this week's "Friday 5" will center around thankfulness. So, here are five things this reporter is thankful for — just in time for my favorite holiday!


Whether they've been around since childhood, they're new in your life or they're stuck with you every day at work, friends are something to be grateful for.

I am forever grateful to have found some of the greatest friends a person could ask for — especially when it comes time for huge milestones like weddings! Tim Larsen Photography / Special to The Forum

I've been blessed with some wonderful people in my life that I can turn to when I need help and who know they can turn to me if they need some really subpar advice (I am not a good advice-giver) or a listening ear.


Work acquaintances turned real friends make days in the office that much better. Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum

These people make the bad days a little better and help make life sweet.


I've said it before and I will say it again: There's nothing more important to me than family. And I have two HUGE families, meaning I have a lot to be thankful for.

...and this is only PART of the Vatnsdal grandbabies. (Back row, from left): Ben Vatnsdal, Tayler Johnston, Daniel Rivas, Danny Legittino, Katie Vatnsdal, Gus Vatnsdal, Joe Vatnsdal and Stella Vatnsdal. (Front row from left): Heather and Emma Vatnsdal. Emma Vatnsdal / Special to The Forum

Dennis and Eldri Vatnsdal were blessed with 11 grandkids, plus two through marriage, for a total of 23 people in that immediate family. Of course, being in northwestern Minnesota, I can't just count them — we branch out into second- and third-cousins (or basically anyone that shares my last name) and we basically can take over Roseau County with our family.

Sliding over to the Ahcan family, there's even more. Rick and Peg had five kids, who gave them 13 grandchildren, plus the extended family that is always treated like they're the immediates.


Despite his apprehensive look, Chief really does love his mamma (and John, too, I guess). Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum

Whether they're chosen family or family by blood, they have two legs or four legs and fur, family is important and I am thankful for the chance to be close to mine every single day.

I may be biased, but the Corwin and Mary Vatnsdal family is by far the best looking one out there — sorry Beckhams. Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum


In this day and age, owning a home is a great feat. I really am proud of the fact that, at 23, I was able to purchase my first home.

Not everyone is that lucky, though. Especially in the harsh weather we will soon be getting, it's important to remember those who don't have a warm bed. So for every time I stumble down my black staircase in the dark, scrub a dish by hand or empty out the bucket that collects the water under my sink, I take a moment to say thanks to whatever higher power may be listening — and hope that those without will soon be able to find a place to call home.

There's been some mishaps (shoutout to my black stairs, leaking garbage disposal and defective dishwasher), but in the end, I am more than thankful to have a place to sleep every night that keeps me warm and safe.



To me, health doesn't just mean "not sick."

I am thankful that I have made it to 23 years and eight months with hardly any issues. Sure, I am probably riddled with arthritis and suffer from some mild depression, but I wake up every day and am able to laugh, walk and live a pretty normal life without too many issues.

Not only am I alive and kickin', but almost all of my family is, too. A few health issues here and there, but nothing TOO drastic. I know the day will come when this might not be the case, but for now, everyone is healthy.

And I am 1 million percent grateful for it all.


No. 5 on my list of five is my work. Oftentimes finding a job after college can take a few weeks, if not months, of searching, applying and interviewing for different positions. I was one of the lucky ones who worked hard and secured a job in my field before I even walked across the stage at Minnesota State University Moorhead's Nemzek Fieldhouse in May 2018.

I am thankful I am able to get up and be excited to use my creative muscles to produce things that people want to read. I often joke that I get paid to drink coffee and visit with people. I mean, it's not wrong, but it's more than that.

My job allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people and share their stories with the Fargo-Moorhead area and beyond — people like Josh and Benny (who are still waiting to adopt their first child), Haley Wolfe (this year's Miss North Dakota), Anna Marie Johnson (her traditional Christmas tree and decorations were nothing short of breathtaking) and Hannah Maki (who will be living out every child's dream of living at Disney World this spring). Without them, and countless others, I would definitely not be where I am today.


Finally, I am thankful to all of my readers who keep allowing me to do what I love every single day. Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum

I am also especially thankful for my awesome features team (and Tracy) who puts up with my out-loud thoughts and silly questions, and helps me when I run into a bit of writer's block, not to mention you readers who keep me in business.

I could easily list about 100 more things I am thankful for, but, since this is the "Friday 5," I could only give you five.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don't eat too much turkey.


Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach Forum reporter Emma Vatnsdal at 701-241-5517.

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