Thankful for Things Often Forgotten

Commentary Lifestyle Impacts

“What are you thankful for?” Particularly in this age of COVID, one answer from many people who have thus far escaped the virus would likely be, “my health.” We all strive to be healthy and to live long lives, but health is more on our minds in these times.

But as the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday approaches, what are other things we might be thankful for? Most often, the list will include family, spouse, friends, or a good job. These are all important. But in this article, I am exploring some of those things we, as Americans, often take for granted – things we should be thankful for.


thankful for shelter
Even a simple house like this provides better shelter and security than is available to many in the world.
Photo by Author

For most Americans, a roof over their head is something that’s not really appreciated until it’s gone. Protection from the elements is not something enjoyed by large parts of the earth’s population. The vast majority of Americans don’t worry about shivering in a driving rain or being parched by the glaring sun. 

Yet, unless we have experienced homelessness, the shelter of four walls and a roof – no matter how rudimentary or grandiose – rarely makes the ‘thankful’ list.

Education and Books

thankful for education
Photo Credit: Cottonbro

Most people in the U.S. complete high school, and many go on to attend and complete college. That level of education is unknown in large parts of the world.

Books go hand in hand with education. We live in a free society where books are readily available, and discussion is encouraged (the current climate of shouting down opposing ideas aside). But in many parts of the world, books are hard to find despite the modern ease of printing.

Indeed, one of the first signs of the encroachment of a totalitarian society has been the banning and burning of books.


With the rise of the internet, access to knowledge has become even more readily available. There is, of course, a continuing debate about social media. But we can’t forget that a large portion of the great writings of the world has been converted for access over the internet.

In the U.S., we enjoy relatively easy access to the internet as well. Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants, hotels, and other businesses are almost routine now. With the increase in online learning brought about by COVID, this access has become even more imperative. T-Mobile recently announced the development of 10 million additional hotspots serving currently underserved parts of the country, which will be in place within the next five years.

Contrast that with many parts of the world. Although the internet boasts international access, that access is severely limited in many parts of the world.

Even the industrialized nations of Europe don’t have the level of internet access available in the U.S. On a trip to five countries in Europe four years ago, I was amazed at the lack of wi-fi access and how slow the available connections were, compared to what we enjoyed even then in the U.S.

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thankful for medicine
Photo Credit: Cottonbro

We enjoy a phenomenal level of access to medicines and vaccines, compared to many parts of the world. Most people, even in developed countries, would be amazed at the stock in our medicine cabinets – pain relievers, antiseptics, antacids, as well as prescription medications.

Certainly, the cost of medication is an area of major concern for many people in the U.S. today. But if we can bridge that hurdle, there is no shortage of good medicines available.

Hot and Cold Running Water

This is definitely something we never give much thought to, much less show thankfulness for it. But for large parts of the world’s population, access to clean water – never mind having it available at the turn of a tap – is a dream.

In many places, even with access to good water, having that water heated for a soothing bath – which most of us take for granted – requires a significant amount of work.

This article was developed using Scrivener

Nutritious Food

Access to safe and nutritious food is questionable in many parts of the world. More than 800 million people don’t get enough food daily to sustain an active lifestyle.

The variety of food readily available in most U.S. supermarkets is unheard of in many parts of the world. Fresh fruit and vegetables are readily available year-round, even in the coldest parts of the country. Meat, milk, and eggs are rarely difficult to find.

If you like to make your own bread and pastries, the ingredients are easily found in one or two aisles. And if you’d rather have someone else do the baking, the same store can provide ready-baked goods just as easily.

Now, More Than Ever

2020 is definitely a year of troubles for the country. In addition to the COVID pandemic, we struggled to come to terms with racial divide while political turmoil reached a fever pitch.

It would do all of us well to remember that we still enjoy benefits only dreamt of in many other parts of the world despite the angst of our current times. For that, we truly should be thankful.

Related Article: Blogger Cassie Webber wrote a similar article entitled “The Truth About Feeling Lucky, Impact, & What To Do.”

What are you thankful for, especially in these troubled times?

Tell us in the comments below.

Mike Worley

Mike is retired and lives in Louisville, KY, USA. He writes about lifestyle issues, particularly those affecting senior citizens. He also enjoys photography and works part-time as a college volleyball official.