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by Abigail Van Buren

This Is the Day to Take Stock and Give Thanks

DEAR READERS: Today is Thanksgiving Day, and this is my traditional Thanksgiving column.

Take a few minutes to think about what you have to be thankful for.

How's your health? Not so good? Well, thank God you've lived this long. A lot of people haven't. You're hurting? Thousands -- maybe millions -- are hurting more. (Have you ever visited a veterans hospital? Or a rehabilitation clinic for crippled children?)

If you awakened this morning and were able to hear the birds sing, use your vocal cords to utter human sounds, walk to the breakfast table and read the newspaper, praise the Lord! A lot of people couldn't.

How's your pocketbook? Thin? Well, most of the world is a lot poorer. No pensions. No welfare. No food stamps. No Social Security. In fact, one-third of the people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.

Are you lonely? The way to have a friend is to be one. If nobody calls you, call someone. Go out of your way to do something nice for somebody. It's a sure cure for the blues.

Are you concerned about your country's future? Hooray! Our system has been saved by such concern -- concern for fair play under the law. Your country may not be a rose garden, but it also is not a patch of weeds.

Freedom rings! Look and listen. You can still worship at the church of your choice, cast a secret ballot, and even criticize your government without fearing a knock on the head or a knock on the door at midnight. And if you want to live under a different system, you are free to go. There are no walls or fences -- nothing to keep you here.

As a final thought, I'll repeat my Thanksgiving prayer; perhaps you will want to use it at your table today:

Oh, heavenly Father,

We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service,

That thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.