Giving thanks, saying grace, blessing the food. Whatever your household calls it, praying before a meal is something I grew up doing with my family and still do today. In my family, we call it “saying the blessing.” This is a time of fellowship that provides me with reflection, restoration, and gives me hope for the future.

In a few days, folks across Missouri and America will join with their families and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. As I have done every year since childhood, I will spend this time with my family and loved ones. Our family Thanksgiving was first hosted by my grandmother, and then eventually, by my aunt and mother. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a day filled with eating way too much, playing board games, and simply enjoying the company of family and the sounds of laughter at old stories told throughout the night. If up for it, we may even venture out to the Walmart off Hwy 32 for a few early shopping deals.

This holiday is often seen as the precursor to Christmas, but I hope you will take the time to truly give thanks before the next holiday season takes over. As Americans, we have so much to be thankful for. Our nation is founded on freedom and is full of generosity. For every bad thing we hear or read about happening here at home and around the world, there is so much good going on around us that we often overlook. Shared Blessings Transitional Housing Shelter in Bonne Terre has recruited volunteers to cook and deliver meals from Thanksgiving Day through the weekend that follows. In Farmington, the Help the Hungry Bake Sale will bring in money to assist two food pantries to help those in need in the months to come. These are just a few of the examples of the good nature of folks happening right here. As I see all of the food drives and neighbors finding ways to help neighbors during the holiday season, I am thankful for and humbled by generosity and genuine concern Missourians have for one another.

As we join our families to give thanks for our blessings this year, let us not forget the men and women who are overseas serving our country and away from their families. When you sit down to say grace before Thanksgiving dinner, remember to say a prayer for the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are celebrating the holiday at their military base in Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan or elsewhere away from home. They are putting their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy every day.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks. I am grateful to God for his grace and my salvation. I feel blessed to be born in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I am especially thankful for the members of our military who fight so valiantly to preserve our way of life. I also feel fortunate to be from Salem Missouri and honored to represent before the United States Congress the generous and kind Missouri communities that we all call home.

Whether you’re going to hunt in Missouri’s great outdoors, playing flag football in the backyard with your family, volunteering your time and energy to help others, or hosting your whole family for dinner, I pray your day is filled with thanks giving for our multitude of blessings.

Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit

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