12/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings

Every Thanksgiving our family gathers for the feast. We typically cook for days and share our favorite dishes in a kind of "pot-luck" composite that invariably yields plenty of left-overs for the long weekend. By now we've learned so many ways to use left-over turkey, that we actually look forward to the day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich.

This year, as I looked around at the smiling faces and watched the organized chaos of several generations of family members jockeying for position in the kitchen, I sought to give thanks.

I took time out from baking and cleaning to whisper a silent prayer; to acknowledge that in the midst of all our holiday indulging, many people across the globe are suffering. I quietly noted that as our family embraced one another, others were being forever wrenched apart. Though I had a turkey roasting in my oven, fires, floods and the current economic downturn have wrecked havoc for millions, making food and shelter scarce; charities providing thanksgiving groceries have had to turn eager, hungry families away this year. And then I thought about the fact that though here in the United States we are gratefully awaiting changes our new President-elect Obama will make, terrorists in India and other countries around the world have sent brutal, deadly messages to thwart efforts at freedom, growth and change.

When I opened my eyes, I looked around at my life, and felt gratitude welling up inside me like tears. In a world where fortunes and circumstances can change in a heartbeat, I am acutely aware that it becomes even more important to treasure our special moments, and to be ever so grateful for family and friends. As I counted my blessings, I vowed not to take these precious moments for granted -- ever. And with that, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.