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Thanksgiving, as we learned when we were little kids, is more than food, football and gearing up for Black Friday sales.

Although I don’t want to diminish those, because I really like all three.

But we really are supposed to reflect on what we’re thankful for on this upcoming holiday, and I know I don’t do that often enough.

I’ve never kept a gratitude journal, no matter how popular they are. Studies have even shown — and you will find plenty of articles on them if you do a Google search — that people are happier when they write down what they’re thankful for. That’s a simplification, but that’s the gist of it.

Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is about death, as in, Yay! I’m not dead! Then I immediately feel thankful that my parents, who are in their 70s, and my wonderful husband, who is dang near perfect; our two great sons, a daughter-in-law, precious granddaughter, brother and his sweet family are still on this Earth. I love knowing that I can still call my parents and hear their voices. I’m sorry for the people with empty seats at the table this year.

My back hurts, my fingers are crooked with arthritis, and gravity is working on me every day, but I’m thankful for my health.

I’m thankful that I have wonderful parents who are such loving, honest, hardworking and fun role models. Many kids were not as lucky as my brother and I were, through no fault of their own.

I’m thankful there are people who help kids in the foster system, even though it blows my mind how some of them handle it all.

I’m thankful for a nice house, heat, a comfortable bed and warm clothes. I take those for granted way too much.

I’m thankful that we have so many amazing organizations in this city that work without stopping to help our homeless and hungry. I realize I can do more to help. How hard is it to buy a few cans of food to donate to the food pantry at the high school or homeless shelter? What if we all did that? My closet is crammed with coats I don’t wear. Somebody needs one.

I appreciate people who will serve free meals on Thanksgiving to people in need instead of sitting down at their own tables. I’ve done many stories over the years on these people who organize and serve, and I’ve heard the tearful comments of those being served food and feeling love from strangers.

When I start thinking about specifics, the list of what I’m thankful for is endless and overwhelming — living in a great country, thanks to our veterans; teachers who encouraged me and helped me get into a career I have loved for more than three decades; doctors and nurses who have saved my life; police officers and firefighters who sacrifice to keep us safe and won’t be with their families on Thursday.

This year, I’m going to try to keep this attitude of gratitude going when I get in the throes of the holiday shopping frenzy. Maybe I’ll make myself stop and write down all I have to be thankful for to keep me on track.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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