The word “gratitude” evokes thoughts of grace, honor, appreciation and recognition, among others.

They’re all the cornerstone of what we celebrate each year on Thanksgiving Day.

President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, in the middle of our nation’s Civil War.

The rituals of Thanksgiving have undergone an evolution over the years.

Most of us still celebrate it with family gatherings and enormous meals, while it has also become a day for football games and post-meal naps.

The holiday also has become the pathway to the Christmas shopping season when we go to big box stores and (hopefully) local businesses here in Pointe Coupee Parish to buy gifts for friends and loved ones.

It was tough to enjoy the holiday one year ago, when social distancing and gatherings were strongly discouraged.

It meant many families missed out on a holiday, and in some cases some of those loved ones are not with them this year.

Some of those families are still reeling from the hardships of last year, while many others feel it today.

Others live alone and may not have relatives nearby to celebrate the holiday.

Some may be out of work and cannot afford much of a meal, while others may be disabled.

The spirit of Thanksgiving involves the appreciation of all that we have and enjoy, ranging from freedom and family to food and home, and so forth.

For the many of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy those blessings, we should remember those less fortunate.

We can reach out, bring them food or maybe spend time with them.

Perhaps we can just give them a phone call or pay them a visit. Both go a long way.

Turkey and all the trimmings play a big part in our traditional Thanksgiving rituals.

Let us also remember that on Thanksgiving, we should, as the saying goes, pay it forward and give the less fortunate a reason to feel thankful.

The greatest part of receiving those blessings is the ability to share it with others.

The past two years have been tough for many of us, but the greatest blessing we have is the ability to reach out and help others experience the same happy and joy so many of us celebrate on this holiday.