When people think of Thanksgiving, what images come to mind?

Family, friends, an extra couple days of vacation, a big turkey dinner, pumpkin pie, football games, the beginning of the Christmas holiday season — the list is endless.

But what about the real reason for Thanksgiving — what about the act of giving thanks or a prayer expressing gratitude?

After all, that’s how Thanksgiving Day began in this country back in 1621. The Pilgrims had just completed their first year in North America and the fall harvest was bountiful. As the story goes, there was plenty of corn, fruits, vegetables, fish packed in salt and cured meat.

They harvested enough food to store some away for the long, cold winter.

To help give thanks for their abundant food and celebrate a peaceful co-existence with their Indian neighbors, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of giving thanks. This annual celebration has continued throughout the years and become a U.S. custom.

As we prepare to travel to see loved ones or begin work on Thanksgiving in our own homes, let’s remember what this celebration is really about. Don’t forget when you’re eating all those wonderful holiday trimmings to give thanks for the wholesome, bountiful food we enjoy all year.

When it comes time to give thanks before the family dinner, remember to thank the good Lord for his blessings. Also include words of thanks for the farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the United States.

Ask a blessing for those who prepared the wonderful meals and all the appetizers. Let them know during the meal how much you appreciate their culinary skills. They will appreciate the compliment.

As we wrap up 2018, it is important to give thanks to our agricultural producers. This year has been extremely tough on many farmers and ranchers.

In particular those producing grain, are struggling, thanks mostly to low commodity prices amid a global grain glut.

Net farm income is down for the fifth straight year, cut in half since 2013. Farmers continue to wrestle to cover expenses while their farms do not make a profit. Some producers say they’re running on empty.

Without question, challenges will continue to test the mettle of all those engaged in production agriculture. Challenges, like change, remain a constant part of our daily lives. In today’s business climate, all of us work hard, long hours and rarely think about it. We accept it as part of our lifestyle — it’s just the way it is, probably always has been and always will be.

Still, if we take a good look at our situations, we have plenty to be thankful for. Consider our good health, family, friends and the best country in the world to live in.

This Thanksgiving be thankful for all the gifts you are blessed with. Be happy and secure that family, and those you love surround you. Look back and smile about your successes and feel confident that you have learned from your mistakes.

After you’ve eaten all the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie you can hold, remember the farmers who grow the food we eat. And don’t forget to say a prayer for those less fortunate and all those who helped make Thanksgiving a day we can all be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.