Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

A Time to Give Our Thanks, a Time to Remember Others

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, you printed a beautiful Thanksgiving prayer that I used as the grace before our meal. Unfortunately, I didn't save the clipping. Could you please run it again? -- ELEANOR ALARCON, UNION, N.J.

DEAR ELEANOR: With pleasure!

O heavenly Father:

We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank thee for health and remember the sick.

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.

Since today is Thanksgiving, take just a moment to reflect upon all of the things for which you are thankful.

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 even more. (Have you ever visited a veterans hospital? A rehabilitation clinic for crippled children?)

If you awakened this morning able to hear the birds sing, use your vocal cords to utter human sounds, walk to the breakfast table on two good legs, and read the newspaper with two good eyes, 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, pick up the phone and call someone.

Are you concerned about our country's future? Hooray! Our system has been saved by such concern. Our country may not be a rose garden, but neither is it a patch of weeds.

Freedom rings! Look and listen. You can worship at the church of your choice, cast a secret ballot, and you can 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.

A final thought: Want an instant high? The surest cure for the holiday blues is doing something nice for someone. Why not call a person who lives alone and invite him or her to share dinner?

Better yet, call and say, "I'm coming to get you, and I'll see that you get home." (Some older people don't drive, and those who do may not like to be behind the wheel after dark.)

Try it. And let me know the results.

P.S. Special greetings to those of you in the military who wrote from remote corners of the world to tell me that you are using my prayer on this Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! -- LOVE, ABBY

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600