As the holiday season kicks into full swing with Thanksgiving on Thursday, most of us gather around the table and take time to reflect on the year that has almost passed and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. We all acknowledge the big reasons to be thankful; our health, family, and friends; but have you ever stopped to think of some of the not so obvious reasons to give thanks? I know I am certainly guilty of taking for granted things that affect my life each and every day. What are a few of these overlooked blessings? What about our country. Yes, I am aware of the great controversies and divisions between our nation’s political parties, but at the end of the day, I am beyond thankful to live in a country where I am free to pursue my dreams, speak my mind, and believe what I want to believe. Another blessing we should all toast on Thanksgiving: vaccines. How fortunate are we to live in a place where we have access to life-saving vaccines. We often fail to remember that just one generation ago there was no stopping polio, mumps, measles, pertussis, and a whole list of other, now very preventable diseases. Let’s not forget that there are still people worldwide who do not have the access to this scientifically proven necessity in the fight against more than two dozen diseases. There are places in Africa where parents will walk for miles and stand in lines for days just for the opportunity to provide their child with a vaccine. Why do these parents go to such lengths when many of us barely give a second thought to a scheduled immunization or even complain about having to take off work for an appointment? These parents have seen first-hand the devastating effects of rotavirus and pertussis. They have lost loved ones and have seen the fatal consequences associated with an unvaccinated society. Vaccines truly are a privilege that we should give thanks for each and every day.
I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to remember the little things in your life. They may be a bigger blessing than you realize!