Take time to really say 'thank you'

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- In a few days, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will officially be underway, and before that hits, I'd like us all to take a minute and think about the year about to end, and our contributions to the years ahead.

We've all heard "count your blessings" and "give thanks" and countless empty phrases associated with the last week in November, so rather than pave those roads again, my challenge to you is to consider an alternative perspective to make this Thanksgiving one to remember.

Sure, we can sit down and make a list of things we should be thankful for. While some would have us believe the nation is in crisis, uncertainty abounds, the sky is falling...the reality is, if all else fails, we can THANK GOD WE LIVE IN THE USA!

No other nation has repeatedly proven resilience in the toughest times, no other nation has the opportunities, and no other nation has made it a mission to bring prosperity to the rest of the globe. While you may not agree with the strategy, it's tough to knock the philosophy.

None of this happens without a world-class military, and our mission is a big part of making this a reality. But that's not the perspective I'm driving at. It's common during this time to say "give thanks." It's less common to actually do it.

While we have plenty to be thankful for, can we say that we've thanked those who have made this happen?

It's powerful. If you're thankful for someone you work with, tell them. If you're thankful for something someone did for you or that made your life better, tell them. If you're thankful for the care you received from a doctor, a pastor, or a compassionate friend, let them know.

In the spirit of "give thanks," the truest form of thankfulness is communicating that to those that took the time to make a difference in YOUR life.

As you think about who that would be, you might be surprised about just how much you have to "be thankful for" that you didn't include on your original list.

As our lives become increasingly complex, this simple act often becomes the one we forget first. Yet it's the one that represents the difference between "counting our blessings" and "counting those you have blessed." Then take it one step further.

If you have something to give, make it your mission to get on someone else's list. Remember, this is the land of opportunity. One of those opportunities is to make a difference. This is deeper than "giving your time" or dropping an envelope in an offering plate. This is the force that makes organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, and America's Promise fly.

If you've ever worked with those organizations, you KNOW thankful people. You've met them. You've looked into their eyes, and seen real joy. It's priceless.

I couldn't be more thankful for the fantastic organization I have been so blessed to lead, so I'll be busy the next few days trying to let as many as I can know.

I hope you'll join me. If you do, we'll all have that much more to be thankful for next year!