Thanksgiving is a time of families coming together, a time of eating turkey and a bountiful meal, a time for football games, a time of travel, a time off from work and school. But break down the word “Thanksgiving” and, essentially, it is a time for giving thanks.

Thanks for our health, thanks for the loves, thanks for our families, thanks for the food on our tables, thanks for employment, thanks for hope that things will get better, thanks for the roof over our heads, thanks for blessings received, thanks for blessings to come, thanks for the air we breathe, thanks for our lives, thanks for time, thanks to God.

Many words are overused in our language. Many words are used so often that their meanings have become watered down and the word no longer carries the impact that it once did. “Thanks” is not one of those words.

It has become a rare thing to hear someone say “thank you.” Purchase items from a store and quite often, a clerk will not say “thank you.” Too often change is returned with a look of expectant contempt. But it is unfair to single out one person, one job field, in the loss of thanks.

In our daily lives, we encounter people who don’t merely ask for an item, a service, or a favor; they demand it. They expect their wishes to be fulfilled, even though really their order is no more than a request. And when that request is accomplished, where is the thanks for the sacrifices, both great and small, that fulfilled that request? It may never be spoken and, more sadly, the thanks may never be felt.

“Thanks” and “thank you” are only words, but they lend voice to a wonderful spirit. They represent an acknowledgment that a good deed is noticed, that a job well done is appreciated, that a favor is just that — an act that has favorably affected someone’s day or life. The best “thank you,” at times, is said in a whisper, instead of a shout. It is spoken in two quiet syllables but the eyes speak volumes of gratitude and appreciation. It is a thanks that comes from the heart and shines through the eyes.

And that is how we should give thanks this day, and every day. We should give thanks that there is turkey on the table and family and friends sharing it. We should give thanks for the day off from work and football on the TV, while being thankful for having employment to which we will return. We should give thanks that we have today and thanks that tomorrow holds new possibilities. We should be thankful for the people whose acts have made our lives better, who have helped carry life’s load, or who have merely eased the troubles of a day. We should give thanks in voice, spirit and deed.

A thankless society is an arrogant culture. A thankless society is one dancing on the precipice of despair. But do not despair, and do not ignore the wonderful things in life, things like hope and love, family and work. Appreciate them. Acknowledge them. Share them. Be thankful for them. Rejoice in that thanks.

Being thankful is not always easy. In the face of loss, unemployment, illness, hunger, giving thanks is a challenge. Yet, perhaps, the more we open our hearts to thanksgiving, the more we have to be thankful for.

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