On Thursday, most of us will be sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast, complete with a turkey and all the trimmings.
The dining room table will be set with the good china and the napkins likely will be cloth instead of paper.
The refrigerator will be completely full. There will be delicious smells coming from the kitchen. The house will be bustling with family and friends and, if children are present, there will be sounds of laughter and squeals.
When our four children were young, I was almost always in charge of preparing Thanksgiving Day dinner. It was a colossal feat, since that meant a meal for 10 adults and 11 children.
Although it took hours of planning, shopping, preparing and cooking, I absolutely loved it.
When the meal was finally ready and everybody had their plate piled high with food, my sweet father would attempt to say grace.
He was rarely able to get through even a short prayer without his voice breaking and his eyes filling with tears.
This always alarmed younger children who didn’t understand why Papa sounded like he was crying at such a happy time.
Of course, we adults understood. Those were tears of gratitude and a heart full of thankfulness. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about my dad.
When I was planning this year’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, I stumbled across one of my menu plans from 2009. That was the last year my dad was with us. I remember that day well.
My family was a bit disbursed that year, so only one of my brothers and part of his family came for dinner.
They brought my parents — Dad necessarily but reluctantly in a wheelchair. It pained me to see him so frail and weak, yet he had his usual good attitude and sense of humor, remarking that the only good thing about having a wheelchair was getting the handicap parking pass.
As usual, he attempted to say grace and, again, he could barely get through it without the tears and cracking voice. Nobody had a dry eye during that prayer.
Of course, I couldn’t have known then that it would be our last Thanksgiving Day with him. Indeed, none of us know when it is our time to leave this earth.
When tragedies such as the recent terror attacks in Paris happen, most of us think back to the terror attacks of 9/11. I remember being afraid to leave our home, which is giving the terrorists exactly what they want.
As we are all making plans for this Thanksgiving, please take a few minutes to think about your blessings. So many of us have so much to thank God for, and too often we take what we have and our loved ones for granted.
It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, work, school, etc., we forget to pause and count our blessings. Things can change in an instant, as it did for those in Paris that terrible Friday night.
On this Thanksgiving Day, why not take the opportunity as a family to pray for those people, as well as for our country.
There are so many challenges facing us as a nation, it is sometimes difficult to see how we will meet them and leave a stronger country for our children and grandchildren.
I think it is important to remember our country has seen darker times. Just think how terrified people must have been during World War II.
Surely, during those dark days Americans relied on prayer to get them through.
My hope is that everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving and will say a prayer for our nation, as well as for our friends around the world.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.