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Remembering to Give Thanks

Below are a wide assortment of Thanksgiving and Christmas Tips which I hope you'll find helpful. But first, I'd like to take a minute to thank you for your support and being a caring part of the homemakers of this country, or wherever you are from. Home is where the heart is. It doesn't matter what circumstances you find yourself in this week, there is always something to be grateful for. I'm grateful for you, my family and friends, my home, safety and those that serve to protect us. I hope you'll offer up prayers this week for the many men and women and families sacrificing their lives, no matter what your politics may be.

My sister sent me this picture which I thought you would enjoy. You won't find this type of thing on the major TV stations or media. Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt, superintendent of the 22nd Wing Medical Group, recently gained worldwide attention for a photo of him holding an injured Iraqi child. The photo was taken about a month ago, while he was deployed to Balad Air Base in Iraq.

The young infant had received extensive gunshot injuries to her head when insurgents attacked her family killing both of her parents and many of her siblings. The chief had a knack for comforting her and they often would catch a cat nap together in a chair.

Now, he is back at home in Wichita, Kan., with his wife, Mindy. They have a warm, hospitable home five minutes away from McConnell Air Force Base. His son Ryan, 25, and daughter Amber, 23, have long since outgrown being cradled and he said he thought about them constantly while he held the Iraqi child.

"I got as much enjoyment out of it as the baby did," he said. "I reflected on my own family and life and thought about how lucky I have been."

His affection for children is no secret to his wife, Mindy. While dating John in high school, she watched how he bonded with the child of a coach of one of his athletic teams. That softer side of him is one of the reasons she married him.

"People see him as this tough guy," she said, "but I always see that other side of him that is full of compassion."

The chief, who grew up in Jordan, New York, is not at home in the spotlight. When asked to talk about himself, he always tries to switch the focus to the other military people who served with him at Balad.

While deployed to Iraq, the chief tried to help out any way he could. He figured holding a baby that needed comforting that would free up one more set of arms that could be providing care to more critical patients.

"If I have an opportunity to help out, I look for that opportunity," he said. "They had more than enough to do."

The chief was not alone in volunteering at the hospital. There were more than 800 different volunteers at the hospital during the time he was deployed to Iraq, he said. Some of them volunteered so much that he mistakenly thought they were assigned to the hospital.

When Mindy describes the best qualities of her husband, the first word out of her mouth is integrity. She said the photo of her husband and the Iraqi child truly represents him. She believes he has been so successful because he is such a straight-shooter and puts others' welfare ahead of his own.

"He never leads anyone astray," she said. "He will never do something for himself that would have a negative effect on someone else. He always tells it like it is."

But, the chief attributes his success to his family.

"Without their support I don't know where I would be," he said. "I definitely wouldn't be in the position I am."

And it is the chief's hope that families in Iraq will receive the same kind of support in the future. They are just like American families, Chief Gebhardt said.

"I pray for the best for the Iraqi children," he said. "I can't tell the difference between their kids and our kids. The Iraqi parents have the same care and compassion for their children as any American."

Life is calmer for Chief Gebhardt now that he is back home, and even though his recent "fame" has highlighted an eventful 27-year career, he said he wouldn't change a thing. "If I had to do it over again, I would sign up and give it another ride," he said.

Last Minute Food and Decorating Preparations

We're in the final countdown phase now for Thanksgiving and I hope you're well on your way to food and decoration preparation. But here are lots of tips for the season for you if you're finding yourself a little behind.

You don't have to go all out and buy new furnishings to make a tremendous impact on your guests. Why not just rearrange the furniture? You'd be amazed at how quickly you can give your home an instant face lift with an arrangement makeover. And if you need ideas and guidance, I've got the perfect solution which you can have in about 5 minutes. It's my electronic book called Decor Secrets Revealed. Loaded with photos, it's an easy, breezy read on your computer and you can be well on your way to the best looking home on the block. And it won't hurt to amaze your mother-in-law too.

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More Christmas Decorating Tips

More Party Planning Tips
Decorating Ideas for Christmas
Quick Christmas Decorations
Easy Christmas Decorations

Previous Thanksgiving and Christmas Tips

Decorating Wreaths
Decorating Trees
Decorating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Cornucopia
Carving Turkeys
Roasting Turkeys
Buying Turkeys
Children's Thanksgiving
Christmas Decorating
Last Minute Tips
Decorate with Candles
Preparing Interiors
Preparing Exteriors
Holiday Floral Bouquets
Floral Seasons
Decorating Entries
Thanksgiving Decorating
Christmas Decorating Tips
Hiring Disc Jockeys
Christmas Decorating
Holiday Decorating
Holiday Decorating II

Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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