Make Thanksgiving great again. How, pray tell? By giving your smartphone and other devices the day off. (I know, it won’t be easy.) And just enjoying a true, distraction- and gadget-free day. Giving others close to you your undivided attention. At least for one day.

There was a reason you woke up today. And I’ll bet it has nothing to do with spending your precious time constantly distracted by a device. (Which is currently glued to your hand or in your back pocket.) So it may not be a bad idea (your neck, eyes and ears will thank you as well) to enjoy the holiday, being in the moment with your family, friends and loved ones. Breaking news: You won’t get that moment back again.

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield

• • •

My reply to Paul John Scott and his refusal to serve Thanksgiving — and his potatoes — to Republicans (“After the election: Make up or break up,” Nov. 20):

I’ve been thinking about what you wrote as I spent five hours making homemade turkey stock. It will go into the stuffing and the gravy. To be enjoyed at a table composed of both die-hard Democrats and Republicans.

As it has been done for generations in my family, we will talk politics, and if it gets too hot, someone will ask to pass the gravy.

This is not lost on the children at the table. It was not lost on me. Or my parents. Or my grandparents. (I’m guessing the generations before that were too exhausted working to put any food on the table to talk politics.)

My Thanksgiving wish is that this is not lost on the next generation of children who are also blessed to have both Democrats and Republicans at their table.

Tolerance of differing political ideologies is a dish best served warm — and warmly. With really good gravy.

Sarah Janecek, Minneapolis

• • •

Americans have a lot to be thankful for this year. At the top of the list are our military men and women who dedicate their lives to the safety of our country. Without their commitment, we would not have our freedom. We must recognize our law enforcement community whose daily vigilance allows us to experience safe communities. Our first responders, too, for their willingness to charge into scenes of chaos and tragedy. We pray that both professions can safely complete their calls to duty.

We also must appreciate our founding fathers, who gave us the documents that serve as the guiding light for our form of government. May the new administration bring peace, prosperity and respect to those of all ethnicities who call themselves Americans. Hopefully over time those still angry can see that compassion and listening can overcome our differences.

As we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving, we should each reflect on our shared responsibility to join forces for the common good.

Joseph Polunc, Cologne

• • •

This time of year tends to conjure thoughts of everything we’re thankful for. At the same time, it’s important to remember all of the things we take for granted. One of the things we tend to take for granted in this country is the basic act of a safe childbirth. Around the world, 830 women die in childbirth every day, and 7,000 children die before their first month. The vast majority of these women and newborns live in resource-poor countries where adequate care is just out of reach.

Countries around the world, including the U.S., along with UNICEF, set a goal in 2012 of eliminating preventable child deaths by 2035. Progress has been made in recent years, but there is still much to do. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is a bipartisan bill currently in both houses of Congress that will give mothers and their children around the world a chance at a healthy life. And it does this all with no new money added to the budget, instead refocusing money already allocated to the maternal and child health account.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken both should cosponsor this legislation, and join the 25 senators and 216 representatives already supporting these bills. If this act passes before this Congress ends its session in December, this nation’s representatives will have signed into law protection for the futures of millions of mothers and children in the poorest communities around the world.

Patrick Shea, Farmington

• • •

Happy Thanksgiving to those organizations whose mission is to help the poorest of the poor. My checks are in the mail to you, as they always are this time of year. I know that thanks to your good work, Thanksgiving will have some meaning to our neediest who need the help of all of us, year-round. Thanksgiving should be more than turkey and football, it should be generosity and assisting those who otherwise would have little or nothing to be thankful for. This doesn’t make me a hero, but it reinforces my sense of humanity and connection to all of my sisters and brothers, whether I know them or not.

Willard B. Shapira, Roseville


Volunteerism is admirable, but why reject policy as a solution?

God bless Annette Meeks (“A helping hand for poorest of the poor,” Nov. 21). She volunteered at a weekend, nonprofit Remote Area Medical Clinic (RAM) in Florida and returned an advocate for the “poorest of the poor.” While lamenting that taxpayers foot the bill for emergency-room visits by Americans lacking health care, she couldn’t resist holding Obamacare responsible. She alleged that the Affordable Care Act overlooked basic medical needs of the poor and cited the “absurdity” of not offering them affordable health care. However, the ACA wasn’t intended to cover everyone. It relied on an individual-mandate concept, first advanced by the Heritage Foundation in 1989, as an alternative to universal, single-payer coverage. Even with subsidies, Obamacare still requires a premium contribution.

The good news is that Obamacare incrementally added more than 20 million Americans to health insurance rolls by 2016, and Meeks now wants care for the remaining 8 percent lacking alternatives other than Medicaid or the emergency room. But, what’s her solution? That’s the bad news, truly an absurdity — RAM visits to Minnesota.

Although RAM’s work is commendable, it’s no substitute for the health care all Americans seek, the kind Meeks can easily access. There’s an arrogance in her proposal — if the poor just wait out their emergency or continuing health care needs, a RAM visit might arrive for a day or two every few years. (The RAM website lists only 14 U.S. clinics over the next six months.) I suppose, if they can’t wait, they could emulate Meeks and use their frequent-flier miles for a RAM visit in a warm vacation spot.

Gregg Larson, Arden Hills

• • •

Meeks is to be commended for her compassion and commitment in serving with the RAM clinic. But, why do we in the U.S. require an organization initially established to provide basic care to people in Guyana and other remote regions to step up for citizens in a populated area of Florida? Why does Florida have one of the highest rates of uninsured in the country (15 percent vs. 5 percent in Minnesota)? Meeks correctly notes the failings of the ACA, but why has it taken legislators so long to correct the problems? I fear that political divisions continue to be more important than addressing the true needs and rights of our citizens.

I am reminded of the story of women finding people struggling in a river. They immediately set out to rescue them. As the people keep coming and the women tire, one of the women turns upstream. When her companion asks, “Where are you going,” she replies, “I’m going to find out why they keep falling in.” We need people like Meeks providing critical assistance to those in need, but we must hold our leaders accountable to finally address the problems “upstream” and put a system of health care in place that works for all.

Susan Sisola, Stillwater

• • •

I am certainly not an expert and do not pretend to be one on health care, but I do try to read about it and use common sense when discussing it.

I find it interesting that the focus of the anger in Minnesota over Obamacare has been for the 100,000 people whose premiums will increase this year. I’ve read that many of them will receive subsidies to cover at least part of the increases.

Why isn’t it pointed out that for the vast majority of our population, those on Medicare and employer-based coverage, health care cost growth has slowed?

Is it not pertinent that after the ACA became law, the price of health care has risen at the slowest rate in 50 years? reports that Medicare payments paid out billions of dollars less than would have been paid had previous trends continued. The average premium for employer-based family coverage rose only 3 percent in 2014 instead of the double-digit increases that had been trending for decades. These statistics must be part of the dialogue, too.

Is it not prudent to point out that for the majority of us, Obamacare is working and that instead of focusing only on repealing it, we should have been working on fixing it, especially for the 2 percent who are experiencing cost increases?

This week I read an article written by two Minnesota Republican legislators offering five reforms they can do this year (“Choice and portability are the answers,” Nov. 21). They state: “We must make modest reforms to our insurance system now to make sure that next year will be better, with more plans, more choices and more doctors.”

Isn’t it shameful that our legislators have adamantly focused on repealing the ACA instead of finding ways to make it even better for all of us? And won’t it be even more shameful if they are unable to repeal it, finally find ways to fix the modest (their term) problems that should have already been fixed, then take credit for a successful program? Oh, my.

Nancy Hopf, Edina