As Thanksgiving approaches, we want to take this time to wish all Canal Winchester residents and businesses a very happy holiday season.

Each November, we're reminded to pause and reflect on what we're thankful for and because the end of the year is right around the corner, start making plans for the coming year as well.

We thought this would be a good time to let you know that we soon will ask you to consider taking a few moments to share your thoughts and opinions with the community affairs office as we look toward 2020 and beyond.

For a little background, in early 2015 we conducted an online survey asking residents to share their thoughts about a number of topics, including public safety, community affairs, development and public service.

In the coming weeks, an updated survey will be available on our website, canalwinchesterohio.gov. When the survey becomes available, a notice will go out on social media, our website and to those who subscribe to the city's news and lalert system.

When you see the link, please take a moment to complete the survey; we want to know how we're doing and what's on your mind.

When surveyed in 2015, many of you shared ideas and comments with us. Some offered suggestions about traffic control, communication, event management, park uses, and more.

Some ideas have come to fruition, such as updates to the bike trails, upgrades to some intersections, more restaurants and a branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

A story of Thanksgiving

Along with suggestions, the survey asked you to tell us what you liked best about Canal Winchester.

Overwhelmingly, our small-town atmosphere was mentioned as a treasured characteristic of our community.

Reviewing your responses inspired me to think back about when I first found myself in Canal Winchester's quaint downtown.

About a decade has passed since then, and many of the businesses you see now were not yet imagined, but many of the longstanding family businesses which had served Canal Winchester for generations were still operating.

Shade on the Canal, Bolenbaugh Hardware, The Wigwam, Shaw Jewelers and others stood proudly along the streetscape, inviting me to come inside and meet new friends, neighbors and coworkers.

When I first stepped into Bolenbaugh's, the smell of aged wood greeted me like a long-lost friend. The man behind the counter smiled and nodded a quick hello.

I just needed a light bulb, but I looked around a bit and ended up staying a while to learn a little bit about the history of the building.

The store has since closed and a chic shop, Sticks and Stones, has taken root, but even now when I walk inside I am greeted by kind helpers and a nostalgic atmosphere.

It wasn't too long after this that I found myself working in a small building across from Roman's Pizza.

Each morning when I arrived at work and settled at my desk, I'd take a moment to gaze out the window and imagine how the village must have looked a hundred years before.

Occasionally, some pillars of the community would drop by to say hello before heading off to meet old friends for breakfast or lunch.

Some of their last names seemed familiar, perhaps from stories or street signs ... Robinett, Wood, Ekleberry, Bender ...

My children grew, and my husband and I soon had the opportunity to play the part of proud parents in the stands during Friday night football games.

How my heart would spring with pride when the broadcaster snapped the crowd to attention by announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, your Canal Winchester Marching Indians!"

When I looked at the fans filling the stadium, I was surprised to see many of those same folks who'd stopped by to welcome me to the downtown.

They very likely no longer had children on the football team or in the marching band, yet they were there cheering with us in the brisk fall air.

They recited the alma mater, "We'll always cherish thee, dear Winchester."

The thought occurred to me that I had found a very unique community -- a small town that was rooted in tradition and bursting at the seams with remarkable people.

As I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this year, I am ever thankful for this small, amazing town.

Happy Holidays!

Amanda Lemke is the events and communication coordinator for the city of Canal Winchester.