I have a friend who is sweet and sensitive, which is why so many people like being with her. But it's also what makes her suffer as she feels the pain of others.

"All around us people are losing their jobs and families are in desperate times. How can we not be depressed?" she asked.

As one who volunteers to help at the community Thanksgiving dinner, she is surrounded by people in desperate straights. "How can we be thankful?" she asks.

My answer is that this year, more than ever, we NEED to be thankful.

If it's lunchtime and we have something to eat, we can be thankful.

If we open the refrigerator and see a multitude of choices, we can be thankful.

If we have a car to take us places, we can be thankful. Yes, the price of gas is high and many of us are curtailing unnecessary trips. But we are coping. Another reason to be thankful.

If you make a choice about going to church on Sunday, be thankful you can make that choice.

If you want to worship God, be thankful you have a church to go to.

If the phone rings and it's a friend instead of just another telemarketer, be thankful you have friends who care enough to call.

If you get up in the morning and your legs still carry you onward to begin another day, be thankful you have the strength to walk.

If you hate to get up in the morning to go to work, be thankful you have a job to which you can go. Thousands of men and women of all ages would do anything for a job – any kind of job.

If you get the gift of a new day, be thankful you have an empty page on which to write this day of your life.

If the sun is shining, be thankful for a beautiful day.

If you are struggling to maintain your house, be thankful you have a home. Many don't.

If breathing comes so easy that you don't have to think about taking a breath, you can be thankful. Many suffer from COPD and need portable oxygen to breathe.

If you're complaining that you can feel so many aches and pains when you try to move, be thankful that you are mobile. Those who suffer with chronic pain know that the gift of movement is not something to be taken for granted.

I complain so much about wearing glasses. I'm forever losing them or having them fog up and several times a week I find myself saying, "I wish I didn't have to wear glasses."

Instead, I should be thankful that I can see.

I sat in a meeting the other day where one woman said she was depressed because her family lives far away and she seldom sees them.

The woman next to her said, "Be thankful you have the blessing of a family. It's something I've never had."

That, to me, was another teachable moment.

We can look at a circumstance in our life as a problem or a blessing. Often it's both.

I, too, am far away from family but I am thankful I can pick up the phone and stay in touch.

I am thankful, too, for e-mail, video cameras and the technology that prompts my grandson to send me a short tape of his last drum performance.

The other day my friend, Pennie, was talking about how she uses video technology to share in her children and grandchildren's lives. They live in Michigan and Texas while she lives in Florida. But thanks to cameras on their computers and a program called Skype, she can watch her grandchildren open gifts and can witness their reaction.

While I wish I could be there for the big events in my grandkid's lives, I'm thankful for all the technology that is the next best thing to being there.

The other day at a brief prayer session before a meeting, my pastor prayed that we might be given the gift of a grateful heart.

This year, more than ever, we need one.

If we have the gift of a grateful heart, we will be able to see and appreciate all the blessings before us, blessings that override the pain and sorrows.

I love Thanksgiving because it is the one holiday that demands nothing of us except a grateful heart.

We debated where we were going to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Should I cook, or should we go out to dinner? It doesn't matter. I am already full.

I am full of the joy of life and full of gratitude for the many blessings that come my way each day.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Most of all, I wish you the gift of a grateful heart.