Once again, the holidays are upon us.
Shortly after Halloween, we began hearing Christmas carols on the radio 24/7.
Stores began setting up Christmas trees and wreaths before the witches and Batman costumes had been marked down for sale.
Such activities seem to have leapfrogged over Thanksgiving, and I abhor that our warmest holiday, Thanksgiving, has been relegated to an also-ran position.
Merchants just don't have as much financial potential in advertising Thanksgiving as they do for the frenzied Christmas season.
If I were a merchant competing for the buying public's money, however, I'd probably do the same.
I hope everyone paused to savor this warm and gracious time rather than thinking of Thanksgiving as merely a springboard for the commercial aspects of the rest of the holidays.
With all the horror that pervades our world - war, catastrophic weather, national and political wrangling - it might be difficult for those of us who have loved ones fighting in Iraq.
Our hearts and prayers are with them, and we pray daily for the safe return of the troops.
In this country we have so much for which to be grateful; our freedom and our nation's generous spirit that has always been dedicated to helping others.
It is second nature for us to help people who have endured tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and floods.
When holiday spirits abound and the moods of others seem high, ours might be smitten with worry, lack, loneliness or loss.
It is in these times that we need to remember to be grateful for the things for which we take for granted, such as living in a free country. Try, even though it can be difficult, not to compare our insides to the outward appearance of others, who appear to lead designer lives.
Unfortunately, our preoccupation with our own troubles seems to magnify. Depression can immobilize and isolate us when we think everyone else is happy.
As hosts, we need to remember people who seem alone or depressed. Please include them at your holiday table.
I am very grateful for many things: a loving spouse, healthy adult children, the blessing of two darling grandchildren and my home.
I am grateful for good health, for exercise, for my church, my Bible class, for my friends and family both far and near, and for our beloved poodle, Chester, who died last month.
I am most grateful for my belief in a loving, merciful and gracious God. I am grateful, too, for my readers who uplift my life. I hope you had a safe and thankful Thanksgiving. Bless you.
Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Carson Elliott's Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.