November 4, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

November and December are happy months for many people. The weather is cooler, and there are major holidays to celebrate.

Some people, however, do not enjoy these months, as the sun sets earlier each day, culminating in the winter solstice. That can affect people’s mental health through an affliction known as seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression for which some symptoms are social withdrawal, weight gain, hypersomnia, and low energy. According to the peer-reviewed journal Psychiatry MMC, 6% of the U.S. population is affected by seasonal affective disorder in its most marked form. This is particularly true in colder areas of the country. The same journal states that an additional 14% of the adult U.S. population suffers from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes known as winter blues.

SAD is one of the many forms of mental illness, from anxiety disorders to schizophrenia, that affect many adults in the United States. While SAD can dissipate in the warmer, sunnier months, those with major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other major mental illnesses need more help.

These are some of the reasons why we thought this issue was a good time to focus on mental health. This issue’s feature section is devoted to a couple of aspects about mental health—from innovations in pediatric mental health to an in-depth look at mental illness that spotlights a couple of noted Omahans.

In the arts section, we highlight painter Elizabeth Boutin, a military wife who uses her art to help bring awareness of PTSD.

November signals the end of high school football in the area, as many final games were played Oct. 25. It also signals the end of football for hundreds of high school seniors, while others, such as Millard West senior Kaedyn Odermann, will go on to play in college. Odermann, impressively, will be going to Harvard University. His story is on page 36.

The end of the year is also a busy time for giving and charitable events, and one of the biggest ones in the area this time of year is the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Gala, to be held Nov. 9. Three volunteers—Susan Andrews, Cathi Arnold, and Kathy Seidel—spent the last 20 or more years on the board of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Friends. They are all stepping down this year, and you can read their story in our Giving section.

Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, and to celebrate, we have a story about some history of Offutt Air Force Base, which started as Fort Crook in the late 19th century and has grown to more than 40,000 people who serve at, or are employed by, the base. From post-Civil War Western growth to the Cold War, this area stalwart has seen interesting times.

The end of November, of course, brings another American holiday—Thanksgiving. The daughters of former Lisa’s Radial Cafe owner Lisa Schembri are reviving their Thanksgiving dinner tradition this year, the first time the family has held a big dinner since Schembri died. This story is our dining feature.

Many in Omaha will host friends and family during the holiday season, and it might be a good idea to have some pastries or sweets on hand to offer those who drop in. Farine + Four offers a wide variety of pastries and handmade chocolates. Omaha Magazine spotlights Ellie Pegler as our chef profile this month.

Thanksgiving weekend also ushers in a flurry of activity as the official start of the Christmas season. One Nebraska city that relishes the season is Minden, known as Nebraska’s Christmas City. They hold a weeklong festival to celebrate, with a lighted parade, a carnival, and more. In fact, the city has events that run through the month, even after the festival ends.

One activity many people enjoy participating in during the holiday season is ice skating, and Omaha offers several places to ice skate during the late-year months, from the Capitol District ice rink, open as part of Holiday Lights Festival, to Ralston Arena, which is open all year during select hours. Obviously Omaha highlights six places to ice skate around the Omaha area. The events and Explore! calendars highlight many more events, including special holiday events.

Along with features and timely articles, Omaha Magazine highlights several people involved in stage performing. Taylor Jackson, 27, is passionate about theater. She is not an actor; rather, she is a stagehand and stage manager who has helped with productions ranging from Shakespeare on the Green’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” to OPA’s “Hamilton.”

Another Omahan who is passionate about theater is Mackenzie Dehmer, director of the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Henry Fonda Theatre Academy, and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus’s annual gala.

Omaha-area comedian David Burdge is funny AF. He has performed for nationally known Daniel Franzese and opened for RuPaul’s “Drag Con.” Burdge’s story, and the story of his comedy show “Gay AF,” is in this issue.

And in the music category, Omaha Magazine spotlights local legend Héctor Anchondo. He tells his story as a musician from his hillbilly roots to his current band.

This is a great issue, and we are pleased to bring you the many great stories inside. I hope you enjoy them all, and I look forward to returning in 2020.


This letter was printed in the November/December 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman 2019 A+C

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of Omaha Publications.