While area residents prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday — welcoming family to their homes or being welcomed elsewhere — it’s easy to forget just how good we have it. Too many have allowed fear, the threat of something bad happening, to mask the reality of our current situation, which really isn’t so bad, with some perspective.

For those unhappy with our government, with our communities, with life in general, now is the time to reflect on what others do and don’t have. Take, for instance, people living along the Gaza Strip. Most of them would probably trade places with us in a second. Continuous missile attacks and airstrikes, buildings destroyed by shrapnel, and the death toll currently stands at around 110. Most people in this country won’t be worried about missiles blowing up their living rooms this holiday season.

While we have had our fair share of protests in this country as of late, we might reflect on the crisis in Europe. Though we have seen our incomes shrink and economic disparity grow, public workers in Spain, Portugal and Greece are currently staging strikes, which have led to the shutdown of rail transportation and airports. Planned strikes in Italy, Greece and France could have similar dire consequences. While the Occupy Movement inconvenienced many, this country hasn’t seen the likes of Europe’s protests in recent years. What we have seen is private workers turn on public workers, telling them they are only looking for a payout. We have seen local unions draw their proverbial small guns for somewhat better wages. We haven’t, however, seen public workers arrested for trying to save critical government programs and their jobs and quality of life. Dozens injured in those protests to date. Though America has its issues, most of us won’t be fearing arrests and protests turning violent this holiday season.

America has had its own problems recently. While Ventura County residents enjoy our sometimes cool, sometimes warm climate, New York City residents are not only having to bear down and bundle up this freezing time of year, thousands of them have been doing it without electricity. There are stories about residents having to use buckets as toilets and then having to discard the waste in terribly unsanitary ways. News stories show residents just trying to figure out how to get bottles of clean water, never mind their Thanksgiving turkeys and cranberry sauce. Most of us out here will enjoy big meals, good weather and will use plenty of electricity this holiday season.

It’s all too easy to keep up the fear mongering and the hatred of those in power. It’s easy to turn against another for having more than we have. It’s easy to forget just how good we have it. This holiday season, though, is the time to think about all those who would trade places with us and to be grateful for all that we do have and thankful for what we don’t.