What are your plans for Thanksgiving? If your day is like mine, it will involve plenty of food: a wealth of food; an embarrassment of food. I will enjoy it – more than necessary – and add it to the list of ways I am blessed.

There are people in this country of overabundance who live in need, but people in third-world nations struggle with conditions that even the poorest in this country cannot imagine.

Therefore, our most basic thanksgiving should be that we were born in the United States. We also happen to live in a place where crime is not rampant; where children can be raised without the fears some parents face; where faith in God is appreciated and honored. Then, we are blessed with family and friends who care about us and give us the opportunity to love and care about others. When you begin to take an inventory of the things you value, you realize they are things you neither requested nor earned. Real treasures are not things we buy or can replace, but things that are given to us. The place and time we were born, the families we were born into, friends and spouses we met at the right time in our lives, our children and grandchildren.

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, but an attitude. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” With our simple prayers of thanks every day, we open the gates of heaven and live in the presence and generosity of the One who provides all the real blessings in our lives.

Our model is set by the Apostle Paul, who wrote in Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Thanksgiving – even without the capital “t” – is the key to happiness, no matter what else life brings.

This will be my last Thanksgiving as your County Executive. I am retiring at the end of this term – August 31, 2022. Even though I have a while to go and am looking forward to those months, I think it’s appropriate to tell you now just how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve you. It’s been an honor and a blessing that I will be forever thankful for.