Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. During dinner, each person took a turn expressing at least one thing he or she was thankful for.

Perhaps it was my shyness coming to light or my lack of preparation to answer the question, but I blanked. I said I was thankful for friends and family–the response I have given since elementary school.

As others began to answer, I realized how simple my response was. Ali, why couldn’t you have come up with anything else? You have so much to be thankful for. I honestly felt somewhat embarrassed.

Looking back at this moment, however, I realized a few things.

1. Being thankful for family and friends is not simple, nor elementary. I may have had the same response as a young child, but that does not mean I cannot still have an appreciation and great gratitude for loved ones. In fact, my appreciation for my friends and family has grown as I have. I have lost family members, I have moved away from friends, and I have learned to value these relationships more and more each year.

2. I am thankful for things I don’t even realize I am thankful for. I believe that each and every one of us is blessed beyond belief. We may experience hardships, but when we count our blessings, we are left in awe of God’s love for us. When I think of the “little things” I am thankful for, I realize how beautiful this life is–and how fortunate I am to be alive each day to experience it.

3. I don’t express my gratitude enough. It is not that I am not grateful for the blessings in my life; I just fail to express my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. If I receive a gift, I am quick to give thanks, but how often do I thank people for their presence in my life? How often do I thank God for another wakeful morning? How often do I state thanks for everyday blessings?

Thanksgiving is now over, but that does not mean I should stop thinking about, praying about, and talking about the things I am thankful for. I am one lucky girl, and I am thankful for so, so much.

I am thankful for my family, and I always will be.