A Heartfelt Thanks to Birmingham
Thanksgiving may be over, but there's still reason to reflect on all I have to be thankful for.
It's a little late to still be thinking of Thanksgiving. I mean, it's almost December— can you believe that? The turkey has been consumed in the Houser household, as well as the turkey sandwiches and turkey pot pie. The football games were largely ignored and I spent some serious time with family.
Though the holiday has come and gone, I feel like I owe Thanksgiving a little thanks here and there. For one, I wasn't even in Birmingham to give thanks on its proper day. My family is in my hometown of Cincinnati so I made the five-hour drive down Interstate 75, along with a host of other Michigan residents heading south.
Although the trip was nice, it's good to get settled back in my Birmingham home. As I was driving back up I-75 (again, accompanied by a sea of Michigan license plates), I couldn't help thinking of all that I have to come home to.
Birmingham, and Metro Deroit, has given so much back to me in the five months I've lived here that it's unbelievable sometimes to hear people speak negatively of the city. So even though I despise cliches, allow me some time for gushing while I belatedly give thanks for everything this city and its neighbors have shared with this ex-Ohioan:
- The kind and tireless volunteers at the Tigerlily Cat Rescue in Sterling Heights who introduced my fiancé and me to our two adorable, rambunctious kittens. After raising two cats while growing up in Ohio, I'm happy to say I now have Michigan cats.
- Living only a short five-minute jog from a truly walkable community. I know Birmingham likes to throw this phrase around, but if there's one thing I've heard praised from every quarter—elected officials, small business owners, everyday residents—it's Birmingham's walkability. For a girl who grew up in the country, I can't even begin to describe the change this has had on my lifestyle and state of mind.
- Events that unite the community and the larger area. From the dazzling tree lighting ceremony at Shain Park on Thanksgiving Eve to the Elmore Leonard Literary Arts and Film Festival last month, I'm impressed every day by the caliber of events Birmingham rallies behind.
- Zuma Coffee House, simply for the fact that it's open 24 hours a day. I spent the past five years living in various college towns, so I'm a bit spoiled when it comes to late-night dining. You can't imagine how relieved I was to find Zuma open at all hours; no matter how late the City Commission or school board meeting runs, there is always at least one light on downtown for my caffeine fix.
- Fellow writers, editors and city officials who have made this newbie feel welcome in a new place. Birmingham is an established city with a small transient population. Birmingham's outgoing city manager of 22 years, Tom Markus, once said he was considered the "new guy" for at least 10 of those years. It's going to take time for Patch, and myself, to sink in, but I count myself as unbelieveably lucky for the connections I've made so far and for all the warm outpouring of support.
- Living so close to Woodward Avenue. I know, this is a strange one, but remember, I was a country girl for a long time. Living so close to a main thoroughfare—with easy access to Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Ferndale and beyond—is definitely a luxury I appreciate. Sure, the traffic during the Woodward Dream Cruise was a mess and it can be loud, but having so many wonderful communities close by makes living in Birmingham that much greater.
Giving thanks is something we should practice year-round, not just on the fourth Thursday in November. Luckily for me, I recently went through a major life change, and so I'm constantly reminded of how much there is to be thankful for. I only hope that after living here for three, five, 10 years, I will feel the same way.