Every year, like many families, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner we go around the table and each guest shares something they are grateful for. Since our table setting ranges from all ages, the answers you get can be varied. Sometimes the answers are full of emotion and heart, other times they lighten the room with laughter.

For me, at least for the past few years, I have always picked the same thing to be thankful for — our service members. I am grateful for the sacrifice and service of my husband, my father-in-law and of so many friends.

This year that hasn’t changed, but I started thinking about what else I am truly thankful for.

Honestly, the list is pretty long, so I boiled it down to three things I am grateful for.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of what I am thankful for is our Gold Star families. In 2016, my husband’s unit was victim to an insider attack. Lives were changed forever. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about those families who lost loved ones that November day. For me, that day and those families will always have a piece of my heart. Our nation owes our Gold Star families the highest form of gratitude. As fellow military families, we recognize that no one has given more for the freedoms of this great country than our families of the fallen.

Next is our Good Neighbors. I often write about our Fort Hood Good Neighbors because of the amazing gifts I see these incredible humans deliver day in and day out. From fundraising to providing necessities for our military families to that big smile and huge hug, our Good Neighbors always show up. They are fully present whenever the call comes from welcoming our service members home or having to send them off to serve this great nation. They stand tall and proud. They give the greatest of love and compassion when you need them the most.

And finally this great community surrounding our installation. There is something special about the Great Place and the communities surrounding the service members and their families. I am reminded every year about how much care comes from the Fort Hood area community as wreaths are laid the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Thousands gather to pay tribute to our service members laid to rest.

Every year, I see tears and smiles as families remember their loved ones, strangers remember the sacrifice and a community comes together to honor these heroes.

At 10 a.m., Saturday Nov. 24, one of my favorite events to honor our veterans takes place at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. Bundle up and arrive early. I hope to see you there.

Thanksgiving is a time together to enjoy our families and friends. It’s time to bask in the light and love that comes from reminiscing, celebrating and giving thanks for all that we have.

Holidays can be stressful, too, so take time to be good to yourself. Take the dog for a longer walk, get some fresh air, breathe in deeply and exhale deeply. Don’t let the holiday stress get to you.

Enjoy the time you are sharing. Be present in the moments you share with each other.

As you celebrate with family and friends, remember our service members who are deployed and their families.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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