Thanksgiving is the forgotten holiday. Through no fault of its own, the day devoted to taking inventory of our countless blessings remains forever sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, the nation’s most popular retail extravaganzas. Thanksgiving doesn’t feature costumed children trading jokes for candy. The day has just one parade and no decorated trees, hidden eggs or bowl games. And have you ever heard someone sing a Thanksgiving carol?

Like it or not, we don’t spend a lot of time being appreciative. Instead, we desire what we think we deserve, grouse about the things we have that could be better and worry about situations that, quite often, never materialize. We quibble about trivial matters, like what football teams will play in Pasadena and who created the Internet, and minimize the truly significant things in life… including life itself.

E.P. Powell, author and professor, once said, “Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men. But be careful that you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.”

Indeed, we have so much for which to be grateful.

This Thanksgiving, let’s pause and remember the nearly 2.4 million men and women who are serving our country on active duty and in the reserves. This includes nearly 120,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq and more than 60,000 in Afghanistan. Let’s praise them for their selfless sacrifice, pray for their safety and families and salute them for their noble service and dedication. (To send your note of gratitude to our service men and women, log on to or

This Thanksgiving, we pause and reflect on the blessing of family. “The only rock I know that stays steady,” says American businessman Lee Iacocca, “the only institution I know that works is the family.” Sure, few are perfect and too often we take family for granted. Yet as friends come and go, family remains constant. That’s a good thing especially in a world where many relationships are fleeting and change is constant and unrelenting.

Finally, this Thanksgiving, we pause and give thanks for the availability of wholesome food. As we prepare to gather around the dinner table this holiday, more than 1 billion people worldwide are undernourished due to a combination of severe food shortages and the global financial crisis. In addition, the plentiful food we’re blessed to enjoy is very affordable thanks to the dedication of farm families who live and work in Iowa and throughout the country. This year, U.S. families will pay 4 percent less for Thanksgiving dinner. A nationwide survey conducted by shoppers on behalf of the American Farm Bureau finds that a hearty meal for 10 including turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings will cost an average of $42.91 compared to $44.61 last year. That’s less than $4.30 per person, or about half the price of a movie ticket.

Remembering Thanksgiving isn’t easy these days. The pace of life is exceedingly quick and there are many things vying for our attention (including those can’t-miss pre-Christmas sales starting at 4 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27). Yet it’s worth our time to pause and reflect on our many blessings, not the least of which are freedom, family and abundant and affordable food. May we never take them for granted.

Written by Aaron Putze