UNITED STATES—Its Thanksgiving, a time for family and food, but we have to have a discussion about something a bit more important: life. Every Thanksgiving our biggest focus is on the food, however, our focus should be on the things that we have in life that perhaps so many others don’t have. It begs the question: what things in life are you actually thankful for?

How about the fact that you have a place to lay your head each night? Yeah, not many of us think of that, but having a house is a bit of a luxury for some people. Not everyone has a place they can call home. Home for them might be the streets, it might be the shelter, it might be the bus station or it could be anywhere that allows them to lay their head. For most Americans, we don’t even think about how lucky we are to have a home, but when the idea of losing a home or not having a place to call home becomes a reality it is something that we appreciate much more.

How about the fact that we have lights and gas in our homes that are needed to operate on a daily basis. Am I saying it’s impossible to live without lights and gas, no, because there was a point where the notion of light (came from the sun) and when it comes to gas, it was something generated by heat, i.e. fire. However, we live in a more evolved culture where we have become accustomed to having these essentials.

Most homes are equipped with electricity and gas, however, there are some people who have homes, but have trouble paying both the light and the gas bill, so it’s one or another. In some parts of the country not having gas is nothing to jump about, especially when the temperature outside are below subzero; not only can it be dangerous, it can be deadly.

Of course we have to talk about clothing. Having a pair of shoes, a coat, pants, shirts, socks, a hat, gloves, not everyone can say this. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to hear or even spot situations where children are going to school without a coat, or seeing people in the streets struggle to stay warm when the temperatures are so cold you couldn’t imagine being outside for 20 minutes. Imagine if you were the person who had to be outside for hours in the cold? It rarely crosses our minds, but IT’S something we need to acknowledge. We take so many things for granted in life that we shouldn’t. Yes, material things might matter, but it’s more important to acknowledge that there are essentials that matter, and everything else doesn’t.

I think the one thing I’m most thankful for is my family. They are the people who I know have my back when I need them to and vice versa. This doesn’t always apply for most Americans, they don’t have connections to family members, or they may have lost many of their family members.

So the holidays can be difficult for those people whose core family unit is no longer in their presence. So what can we do to change this? Be aware of those who are like family to us, even though they are not blood relatives that doesn’t mean they don’t play an important role in your life. Invite them to your family gatherings; let it be known to them how important you are to their lives.

Family is not always tied by bloodlines, even though so many of us would like to think so. Thankful: think about that word for a second. What does it really mean to you? And more importantly have you taken a moment to really showcase your appreciation for the things in life that you take for granted? Remember what you have today can be taken from you tomorrow.