McCaleb: McHenry County residents offer thanks as holiday nears

Nancy Buhr is “thankful my husband found a new job in Cary and will be coming home from El Paso, Texas, after 22 months apart.”

Holly Trudeau of Crystal Lake is thankful for her “toddler son’s smile.”

And Barbara Miller of Woodstock is “thankful for my family, friends, the fact that I am still employed and that I still see each morning, and thank God that he allowed me to celebrate another day.”

Despite any hardships, we all have much to be thankful for.

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the Northwest Herald asked readers on our Facebook page what they are thankful for.

We received quite a number of touching responses, a few (including those above) that I’ll share here today.

Jeanne Ellenwood of Crystal Lake said she is “thankful for God giving me the determination to endure the difficulties in my life. However, I’d even be more thankful to land a job so I can be a productive member of society again. My life seemed to have fallen apart after my husband passed. Picking up the pieces and going back to school has helped immensely. Thankful for family and friends lending moral support so I don’t feel alone in my endeavors. I am blessed!”

The fine folks at The Sparrow’s Nest Thrift Store in Woodstock wrote this: “We are thankful for all of our wonderful, hardworking volunteers. They choose to give us their time and energy to support our cause. They work as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen work. They show up every week to clean, price, repair, pack and/or display thousands of pieces of merchandise on the sales floor. We would not be here without them. Thank you!”

In a neat back and forth, former Cary schools student Matthew Frick tagged a couple of his former teachers in thanking them for the job they do.

“I am very thankful for the quality education I received from Districts 26 and 155 in Cary,” Frick said. “My high school experience at Cary-Grove was especially filled with formative experiences, and led me to a career in teaching. As a teacher now myself, I don’t think these teachers, administrators and support staff are ever shown the amount of gratitude they deserve. Sue Schuerr, Amy V. Bland, and many others I can’t tag had a profound influence on me during fun and challenging classes and extracurricular activities. I am very thankful for them.”

Schuerr responded: “I’m thankful for all the wonderful students I have encountered through teaching and directing plays in the past at Cary-Grove High School. Students like Matthew T. Frick have enriched my life and given me a purpose by leaving a positive fingerprint on a life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.”

Reading all of the posts certainly made my Friday. You can read the entire conversation or add to it at

• • •

Driftin’ Back: Driving home from work one night last week, I had one of those surreal moments when I all of a sudden didn’t recognize what should have been familiar surroundings.

It was dark. Of course, if you leave work after 5 p.m. this time of year, it’s going to be dark.

I often listen to music on my drive home (“Psychedelic Pill,” the latest from Neil Young and Crazy Horse, was in my CD drive), so I likely wasn’t as focused on the road as I should have been.

The Northwest Herald office is on Route 31 just south of Route 14, and I live in south Crystal Lake, so the most direct route home for me is construction-plagued Rakow Road.

For two years, I and thousands of other commuters have had to endure the delays and other headaches caused by the widening project.

I turned right onto Rakow from Pingree Road, but was partially lost in the 27-minute album opener “Driftin’ Back.” It was between Virginia Street and Pyott Road when I refocused on the road and realized something wasn’t right.

Why are there three wide open lanes with room to maneuver this way and that? For a moment I thought maybe I’d made a wrong turn straight into a “Seinfeld” episode – the one where Kramer adopted a highway and turned a four-lane road into a “two-lane comfort cruise,” as he called it.

It took a moment for me to realize that I was indeed still on Rakow, but that all of the orange construction barrels were gone and all lanes were opened. What normally was a cramped, crowded, one-lane frustration was now a luxurious, comfortable drive.

While there still are some daytime lane closures through the end of the month, I’m thankful to say that the end is in sight. That’s one small piece of stress I’ll be happy to be rid of.

• • • 

Ring that bell: The Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign kicked off Friday throughout the county. Over the next six weeks, the nonprofit hopes to raise at least $345,000 through the generous donations of local residents.

About one-third of the agency’s annual budget comes during this seasonal fundraiser. Money raised goes to help feed hundreds of families in need in the area.

If you can afford to, please be generous with your money this holiday season.

Just as importantly, sign up to ring a bell alongside a red kettle outside a local store for a couple of hours. Volunteers are needed to make the campaign a success.

To learn how you can help, visit

• • • 

Next stop, state! Congratulations to the Cary-Grove Trojans, who defeated Lake Forest on Saturday, 42-21, in their Class 6A Illinois semifinal football game. The Trojans now play for a second state championship in four years when they meet Crete-Monee on Saturday in Champaign.

As always, read the Northwest Herald all this week as we build up to the big game.

• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at

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