In its earliest manifestation, Thanksgiving was less of a celebration and more a literal reflection of the very word itself.
Those who first gave thanks on this continent did so because they had literally survived the many perils of life in a strange, new and exceedingly vast world.
These days, Thanksgiving is a holiday, a time for family and friends, a drawing in of the nation's collective breadth before the commercial stampede that is the secular manifestation of Christmas.
Despite the times that are in it, we have arrived at this year's Thanksgiving once again in the knowledge that we have much to be thankful for.
Yes, the economy is still in poor shape and the devastation wrought by Sandy is going to make this a very tough holiday for many. There are also many more people across the nation this Thanksgiving who are giving thanks for a lot less than they might have hoped for.
They are the millions of unemployed and under employed, and those who are facing into the Christmas season with the prospect of joblessness looming all the larger given the exaggerated material demands of that season.
Behind them there are those who are looking to 2013 as the year when they are to arrive, either out of high school or college, on a jobs market that has offered little to be thankful for these past several years.
So behind the rituals of this Thanksgiving there is a broader picture, one in which our continental home yet again seems to harbor perils that we understandably would like to see confined to the past. And yet, despite all these challenges, we know that in our home, in our democracy that has just witnessed another set of lively but peaceful elections, we do have so much to be thankful for. Long may this last.