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Thanksgiving is a day for Americans to be grateful for what they have, yet mindful of the less fortunate and the hard realities of the world. Here are a few developments that earned our appreciation this year:

Be grateful for the U.S. military troops defending our freedoms around the world. Be mindful of those recovering from disabling injuries and the families of service members killed in duty.

Be grateful for the resilience of survivors of hurricanes, droughts and other natural disasters, including the Duluth-area floods. Be mindful of their losses, and the recovery yet to happen.

Be grateful that Minnesotans found a respectful way to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War. Be mindful that some Native Americans consider wolves sacred and are hurting because of the state's new wolf hunt.

Be grateful for law enforcement, rescue workers and those who comforted mourners after mass shootings at a Colorado theater, Wisconsin Sikh temple and the Accent Signage Systems factory in Minneapolis. Be mindful that lawmakers refuse to enact stricter gun laws.

Be grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act, making health coverage for all a possibility. Be mindful of the battles to make it a reality.

Be grateful for the farmers producing our food, and for the advocates and charities providing food assistance. Be mindful that one in 10 Minnesotans struggles with hunger.

Be grateful for Minnesota's rich literary heritage, as evidenced in National Book Awards given recently to writers Louise Erdrich and William Alexander. Be mindful that board members and players in the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber orchestras have yet to reach agreements that can secure the future of another artistic tradition.

Be grateful that Egypt and Libya held their first democratic elections since the toppling of dictators. Be mindful that both countries remain in turmoil.

Be grateful that in postelection comments, Republicans and Democrats have said they are willing to work together to avoid the "fiscal cliff." Be mindful that such promises were repeatedly broken last year.

Be grateful that the Vikings stadium deal brought an end to years of tiresome legislative debates. Be mindful that much work remains to ensure that the project reaches its full potential as an asset for downtown Minneapolis.

Be grateful that the Oreo cookie remains popular after 100 years. Be mindful that too many Americans are obese, in part because they binge on sugary treats.

Be grateful for Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani who championed the rights of girls to attend school. Be mindful that the Taliban shot and nearly killed her for her outspoken courage.

Be grateful that native Minnesotan Bob Dylan was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Be mindful that past winners include former presidents, a pope, the first man on the moon and the creator of Mickey Mouse.

Be grateful that the economy continues to show signs of improvement. Be mindful that unemployment levels remain well above prerecession levels.

Be grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down much of Arizona's harsh immigration laws. Be mindful that the state's toughest enforcer of those laws was just re-elected sheriff.

Be grateful that because of the strength of the Latino vote in the presidential election, Congress is finally talking about immigration reform. Be mindful that lawmakers have been down this road before, without results.

Be grateful for progress in Myanmar, as demonstrated by President Obama's historic visit and the parliamentary election of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 20 years under house arrest. Be mindful of the inhumane conditions imposed on Tibetans living under Chinese rule in Tibet.

Be grateful for sports -- from the Olympics to Adrian Peterson's remarkable comeback and a conference championship for the Minnesota Lynx. Be mindful that a jury convicted former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky for child sexual abuse and Lance Armstrong was stripped of Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for doping.

Be grateful for supportive family and friends. Be mindful that family harmony isn't always possible, and that too many women and children will be spending Thanksgiving in shelters because of domestic violence.

Be grateful for greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, as evidenced by President Obama's turnaround and votes on the matter in several states, including Minnesota. Be mindful that equal rights remains elusive.

Be grateful that the election is over, the robocalls have stopped and candidate commercials are gone. Be mindful that another election is just around the corner.

Be grateful for the words that caught our fancy this year: reboot, malarkey, sexting, flexitarian. Be mindful that Merriam-Webster's has embraced the F-bomb.

Be grateful for all the heroes among us: caregivers, helpful neighbors, teachers, firefighters and the Champlin, Minn., seventh-grader who used the Heimlich maneuver to save a classmate's life. Be mindful that there's room for all of us to grow.

Happy Thanksgiving.