Chez Henri Bistrot celebrates 50 years of French fare, raucous celebrations, pole climbing, ski racing and general bon vivant dining this month.

Henri Borel, founder and co-owner of the restaurant, was recalling how difficult it used to be to get basic food supplies and even decent wine and good (not iceberg) lettuce, when he said, "Everything is so much easier now. Life is improving. People complain that it is getting worse, but it's not. It's getting better."

And he's right. Everything is so much easier now. We have an abundance of food (much of it grown right here) available to us all the time. We have more libations than we can shake a stick at – libations so good that people flock here from elsewhere to wait in line and buy them. Life is improving.

We have an interstate that is plowed and maintained as needed. (Borel recalled driving his wife to Central Vermont Hospital for the birth of his son in 1965 when there was no interstate.) We have paved local roads that are plowed and maintained. Many Chez Henri diners and many locals and many skiers recall when the Appalachian Gap and German Flats Road were not plowed. Life is much easier now.

We have an organization whose job it is to help those among us who need help. We have a community fund. We have an interfaith council. We have a strong social safety net in place in our community. It's getting better.

We have more technology than we could ever possibly need. If we have a medical emergency we can use our telephones or cellphones to call for help and volunteers will come. If we have a fire, we can use the technology to call for help and more volunteers will come. That's a gift.

We turn on our faucets and clean water comes out, either hot or cold as desired. That means we live better than most of the world. In the cold of Vermont's long dark winter, we are warm, thanks to propane, fuel oil, solar, geothermal, wood, electricity, etc.

When it's dark, we turn on our lights. The early December storm gave us all time to appreciate electricity, especially those who were without it for days.
We have so much. We are blessed by our ordinary lives and our extraordinary community.

Give thanks and happy holidays.