As Thanksgiving approaches, so does the annual time for reflection. The holiday may bring thoughts of family, friends, career, religion, politics, or perhaps just turkey. Many families around the country, though, will likely reflect on an additional topic this year: economic security.

The continued high level of unemployment throughout the nation is by now familiar news. And we know that job losses affect much more than just the individual. But three years of recession has done more than leave people temporarily out of work. According to a new poll released earlier this week by Half in Ten, half of all Americans now have a direct, personal connection to poverty. Half. Half of everyone surveyed has a family member in their household, or another close relative such as an aunt, uncle, or cousin, who is poor today.

‘Half of all Americans’ is a figure worthy of reflection. And it is a figure that we at First Focus hope our nation’s leaders reflect upon over the holiday as well. When Congress comes back into session next week, there are a number of pressing bills affecting the economic security of children and families left to consider before the year end.

And despite their necessity, these bills will be vying for attention among many competing demands (START treaty anyone?). The biggest competition of all, however, will likely not be another piece of legislation, but instead stem from the release of the final report from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Deficit Commission. Judging by the dominating coverage of the recent Co-Chairs’ Proposal release, the Commission’s report may have the power to significantly influence any federal spending decisions left to be made in 2010.

Whatever your thoughts on dealing with the country’s deficit, the fact that half of Americans can identify a family member in poverty today does not bode well for the state of our society in the short-term, never mind ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road. Our long-term conversation cannot come at the expense of half of our nation in the present.

Happy Thanksgiving.