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Thanksgiving. A Time to Assess.

What does Thanksgiving mean to each of us? For many, it's a time of year to take stock of what we've got to be thankful for. For some, that might mean family and friends, or a loving animal companion; to others it may mean good health, prosperity, a steady job. Ask a kid what she's thankful for and she'll probably rattle off a list of worldly possessions: bicycle, toys,

Cheetos ... . What we are thankful for varies greatly from person to person, but gratitude will also vary greatly for each individual, from year to year, based on life circumstances.

Major life changes, such as divorce, can influence our outlook on what we have to be thankful for, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In the case of divorce or separation of any kind from a loved one, outlooks can change significantly during the holidays. Changed circumstances can disrupt traditions; people present a year ago may be absent. Whether it's going to Mom's for holiday dinner; cooking together as a family; watching football or "A Christmas Carol" with friends and family, the familiarity of holiday traditions provides us with a sense of belonging. But when those who used to belong now don't, sometime holiday glee becomes creeping depression.

It's easy to lose perspective on the intent of the holiday.

As we approach Thanksgiving, what better time to assess life ... determine which factors contribute to your happiness and which don't. Give conscious thought to what you are thankful for, and keep the meaning of the day in perspective. And if it's one of those years where you can't think of a single thing to be thankful for? Ditch the thanks, and concentrate on the giving. Your gift of giving will propagate gratitude in the beneficiary of your kindness, such a reward lifts even the most weary of souls - a gift in itself for which you can give thanks.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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