As I reflect on former Thanksgiving days, how well do I remember those tremendous special dinners.

More important than the food was family and friends. We often went to church for the one-hour service where people would give testimonials of what God had done for them in that year. Then, we would settle at home around the table to eat and share stories about our life experiences, play games, or watch that special movie.

However, for me — and I think for many others — Thanksgiving brings periods of sadness as we remember our precious loved ones who are no longer with us. Those very special people made a difference in our lives. It might have been a mother, father, sister, brother or maybe just a friend, but we loved them and we remember the great impact that had on our lives.

We have been left to make adjustments because of the void each has left in our lives. Sharing fond memories of them, however, does help to ease some of the hurt we feel. We do know that this earth is not our home and that we all will one day transition to that special place with our Lord. Let that be our prayer.

Thanksgiving is also that day that, while I am eating, I cannot help but think of others not just in what we call Third World countries, but of those right here in America who have little or no food to eat on a daily basis. Recent research revealed that 1 out of 8 people live below the poverty level. This means they do not have adequate food or clean water to sustain them. Yet the world throws away 40% of the food developed on this earth. When I read that report, I was convicted. I know I have had many days when I did not eat all of my food — at home and at restaurant — and literally wasted it.

I am not saying I could have gotten it to someone who needed it, but it reminds me how blessed I am, how blessed so many of us are.

Then, there have been Thanksgiving days when I was reminded of those who may not be home because they are in the hospital battling an illness.

Then, my mind shifts to those in prison. Perhaps they deserve to be there, but I will not condemn nor judge because Thanksgiving also reminds me to be forgiving and sensitive to the fact that but by the grace of God I could have broken a law and been in trouble and having to pay a penalty as well.

Have you, like me, had some events to happen in your life that you felt you just could not be thankful for when going through it? But now we can say, thank you Lord because the trials and tribulations made us better and more appreciative of life.

Because of all of these things, both positive and negative, I now have a different perspective not only of Thanksgiving but of every holiday. I am choosing to make every day a day of thanksgiving.

I know the past is behind me and my future on earth is unknown. Therefore, I will celebrate the here and now…the present. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24). Live life one day at a time, and make it your best day possible.

The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.

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