Thanksgiving—or pre-Christmas, as it is known in marketing circles—is upon us.

Thanksgiving—or pre-Christmas, as it is known in marketing circles—is upon us.

Every year I watch as we abruptly switch our attention from stale, leftover Halloween candy to twinkling lights and eggnog. Christmas themed candy was on the shelves before the Halloween candy had even been discounted.

Retailers scramble for early sales, yard decorators untangle lights, and children everywhere pen wish lists the size of outdated phone books.

Oh sure, the original reason for Thanksgiving was simple: to set aside a day of thanks for bountiful harvests. But over the years, it’s gotten a little out of hand.

Growing up, Thanksgiving had more credit as a holiday. Commercials featuring Santa waited their turn. This year K-Mart was advertising lay-away before Halloween. The commercial didn’t come out and actually say it was for Christmas, but c’mon, we all knew the true intentions of the commercial.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my generation has no respect for Thanksgiving as a holiday. It doesn’t exist to us. Christmas is now a two-month long ordeal.

Aside from Christmas slowly shoving Thanksgiving aside, the way we show gratitude has changed from realistic blessings to a number of completely unrelated things like winning sports seasons and spectacular sales at the mall.

Poor Thanksgiving has evolved into a please-just-let-me-get-through-this kind of day, with millions of citizens praying for the ability to tolerate long-lost relatives and grumpy grandparents for an entire afternoon until stores begin their blockbuster sales.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It’s a truly American holiday. It combines food, football and relatives–those we like–and those we are happy we only see once a year. Thanksgiving is not–and should not be– treated as an afterthought

We’ve been told this our entire lives, but a lot of people truly don’t have what we have, even if you don’t think it’s very much by today’s standards.

I also know there isn’t much decorating you can do for it either. But it’s not about the decorations. It’s about the feeling you get when you sit down with family and enjoy a good meal and conversation. It’s about your grandmother’s pumpkin pie, or how Dad always yells at the television during the Viking’s game. These are things that you’ll grow up remembering fondly, perhaps even to the point where your future children think likewise.

These are things you can’t take back to the store.

To all those folks out there who went directly from “Trick or Treat” to “Ho Ho Ho!” without stopping so much as to smell the pumpkin pie, I say respect the bird.

So this year I’m going to give thanks for every single blessing in my life, and I will smile and embrace each visiting relative, no matter how completely insane they are.

I am thankful that our children are healthy and fairly happy. I have wonderful parents and a brother and sister that I am truly thankful for. Our tiny family of five has grown to include wonderful siblings-in-law who I cherish and the addition of four beautiful, healthy nieces and one very spunky nephew–all of whom I adore.

I have great friends and co-workers who graciously carried Hubby and I through two tragic losses this past year.

Through marriage I have gained another set of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and brother's whom I'm thankful have accepted me like a sister, daughter and niece. I couldn't have asked for a better "second family."

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful I have a very patient and loving husband who graciously allows me to use him as column fodder with hardly a complaint.

Regardless of if you are a crazed shopper counting the hours until Thanksgiving sales or a family of classic traditions, make sure you take time out this holiday to count your blessings.