Thankful thoughts this Thanksgiving

Local, state and federal election officials as well as election activists and observers, gather for a group shot at the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s election warehouse on Nov. 17, 2017. The participants, including Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Arapahoe Clerk Matt Crane, helped pull ballots in preparation for the county’s ballot tabulation. (Arapahoe County photo)

Here is what some of the SOS staffers what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Family and friends topped the list, but here are some of the more creative responses-

• “I’m thankful for my job, I JUST LOVE IT!!  It allows me to work with a lot of veterans as well as community members.  Cannot be thankful enough to the veterans for serving our country.” Darleen Herrera, charitable gaming investigator.

Catherine Hill’s granddaughter, L.C. Cassandra. L.C. means Love Child. Her right kidney was removed in May 2016 because of a tumor taking 70 percent of it. She had 13 chemo treatments.

• “I am thankful for the opportunity to go visit family and to have family visit us. I am also thankful that the risk-limiting audit has proceeded in a fashion that neither we nor the clerks have to work on Thanksgiving.” Wayne Williams, secretary of state.

• “Just living! My 5-year-old granddaughter has been cancer-free for a year!” Catherine Hill, elections administrative assistant.

• “I am thankful to be able to work in an office that has so many kind and generous people, and which is located in a state that makes every day a good and different day.” Chris Johnson, executive administrative assistant.

• “I’m thankful for the passage of time…without which our restrooms would have never seen completion…without which we would be forever doomed to endure multiple daily journeys to the second floor….LOL, I think I am probably speaking for a LOT of people in my thankfulness!” Myra Rooney, campaign finance specialist.

• “I’m thankful that my parents left South Florida to start their family in Colorado, so I had the Rocky Mountains as my playground and not the Everglades.” Chris Cash, charities program manager.

• “I am thankful for my boss, Wayne.” Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state.

Lynn Bartels’ response might be my favorite of all –

Dwight Shellman, SOS county support manager, with all his essentials for the first statewide risk-limiting audit. (SOS photo)

• “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it involves food but no gift-buying. Last year, I posted on the SOS blog a column I wrote about Thanksgiving in 1991 when I was working as a columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune.

I have plenty to be thankful for but this year I’m especially grateful for Dwight Shellman, the Secretary of State’s county support manager.

Dwight is our chain-smoking, coffee-swilling, loveable attention-to-detail guy who has been such an integral part of the risk-limiting audit our office and Colorado’s county clerks just conducted to show that the election results were accurate.

The post-election audit attracted election folks from across the country, which only added to Dwight’s 24-hour state of stress. Another SOS staffer, Ben Schler, once joked that if Dwight managed a Pizza Hut he would be outside by the dumpster on Super Bowl Sunday, smoking and muttering, “I just know we’re going to run out of dough. I just know we’re going to run out of dough.”

Even if we hadn’t done a risk-limiting audit this year, I would still be just as grateful for Dwight. As the former elections director for Pitkin County, he knows what it takes to run an election – hence his devotion to our county clerks and their staffs.

Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humor, something to be thankful for in any person.

Enjoy Thanksgiving, dear readers!”

A very Bartels Thanksgiving: Calories over credit cards on Black Friday

The Bartels family circa 1973.
The Bartels family circa 1973 at Grandma and Grandpa Bartels’ farm in Hubbard, Neb. Front row: Susan, Lynn, Mom holding Kitty and Brigid. Second row: Caroline, Jerry, Joe, Dad, Mary Kay and Jeanne.

In a previous life, I was a columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. Here’s what I wrote about Thanksgiving in a Nov. 29, 1991, column:

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t my favorite part of the holiday.

It was that night and the next day that I remember as being the best of times: eating and laughing, and eating and playing cards, and eating and arguing and eating.

When I grew older I found it hard to believe that people would go shopping for Christmas gifts on a day like today. We were never up for something that strenuous at the Bartels household because we didn’t go to bed before 3 a.m. Friday.

My siblings and I would play cards and wallow in the leftovers until we were in a food coma. We would get louder and louder and, finally, Mom or Dad would yell from their bedroom, “This is the last time! Now quiet down or go to bed!”

We’d look at each other and stifle a giggle and try to lower our voices.

“Your deal, Jerry.”

“I dealt last time.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did. Remember? I accidentally flipped a card so everyone knew Jeanne had the four of spades and Jeanne totally flipped out.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right.”

As soon as it was time to deal, four or five chairs — depending on how many of my eight brothers and sisters had stayed up to play — would slide back from the table at the speed of light. We used that time to grab a drink or some turkey or to rush to the bathroom.

Pretty soon, the cards would be dealt and everyone would be in their place. But, invariably, a crisis would arise.

“I told you to get me some some turkey while I was dealing.”

The way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday.
Our way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I thought Caroline was getting it.”

“Caroline ran down to the basement to get the pop.”

“That’s not fair. I made you a ham sandwich when you were dealing.”

We’d have to calm down the dealer before the game could finally proceed, but the peace never lasted long.

“I’ve got more diamonds than Elizabeth Taylor.”

“No table talk, Sue.”

“How about last game? You kept saying, ‘I wish we were playing bridge. You can’t believe my count.’”

That kind of argument would go on and on, until we’d hear a mumble from my parents’ bedroom and then a light would flip on. Total fear would envelop us. We’d even stop chewing.

Eventually the light would go off and we would resume play.

“Hah! Hah! Hah!” a player would whisper, just before burning someone with the queen of spades during a rousing game of “Hearts.”

“Hah! Hah! Hah back! I just ate the last of the cranberry salad.”

There would be an instant hush. Cranberry salad is sacred to my family at holidays. The recipe includes two ingredients essential to Midwestern cooking: Cool Whip and marshmallows.

“Dad is going to kill you. He said to save him some cranberry salad.”

All of a sudden a voice would boom in the hallway. “Who am I going to kill? What happened?”

At that, one of my sisters would laugh so hard pop would come out her nose. Even Dad would snicker before ordering us to put the cards away, wipe off the counter, cover the pies and, “GO TO BED, NOW.”

So we’d go to bed. But as soon as we got up, it would start all over again.

I miss those days. It’s been years since I had pumpkin pie and stuffing first thing in the morning.