Thanksgiving traditions can become routine, but however you celebrate today, don't take your circumstances for granted.

Whether your family is large or small, whole or incomplete, comfortable or struggling, nearby or serving our country overseas, this holiday more than ever asks us to appreciate what we have.

The reminders of tough times are everywhere.

The percentage of people out of work today is higher than at any time since 1983 - 10.2 percent. In the construction industry, the jobless rate is 15.5 percent.

Add the people who are working part-time jobs but can't find full-time employment, and nearly one out of five Americans is either out of work or underemployed.

As families clasp hands around familiar tables of bounty today, there is more hunger in the land. The government reported this month that many Americans didn't have enough to eat at times in 2008.

Nearly one in four children - 17 million - live in households where food is sometimes scarce.

Local food pantries increasingly are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked, as more and more of the working poor show up seeking help. Last year, people in 4.9 million households used private food pantries, compared with 3.9 million the year before. More people visited soup kitchens, too.

Unemployment and hunger are two symptoms of the severe recession. President Obama has pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015, but the government's report shows the trend instead is worsening. More needs to be done in Washington to help low-income families afford good food consistently.

More can be done privately, too. Food banks have always relied on the generosity of private donors, especially during the holiday season. But the recession has resulted in fewer donations to nonprofits at the same time food banks are trying to meet greater demand.

Some families have lost income, and don't have as much to give. Other families haven't lost jobs but are worried about the fragile economy, and they're trying to save what they can for an emergency. It's a responsible approach in tough times.

But the need is out there, more than at any time in the past generation. If you're unable to give, perhaps there's time to volunteer at a church or social-service agency. If you're unable to give as much as in the past, try to make some charitable donation that still fits into your budget.

In this prolonged crisis, the wealthiest of nations can't afford to forget about the people who are less fortunate. Their needs will continue long after the fourth Thursday in November.