RAY SUAREZ: Americans took time out to observe Thanksgiving today.Some got a jumpstart on the Christmas shopping season. Even as many were mindful of those serving overseas.
For the more than 140,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Thanksgiving meals were served far from home again this year.
MAN: It means a lot to me and the guys; it give us kind of a taste of home.
RAY SUAREZ: Servicemen and women at this post in Afghanistan celebrated with a traditional turkey dinner, but the break was only temporary.
Troops continue to patrol the border with Pakistan, where suspected Taliban fighters were spotted nearby.
MAN: Here, you're all dependent on each other for success and survival.
RAY SUAREZ: Back in the U.S., some soldiers were lucky enough to return in time to celebrate with their families.
GIRL: I love you.
MAN: I love you too, sweetie. I missed you so much.
RAY SUAREZ: In Washington, President Obama used his weekly radio address, released today, to thank those who are serving their country.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To all of our service members stationed around the world, I'm honored to be your commander in chief.
RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Obama, who celebrated the holiday at home in the White House, also phoned troops serving on the front lines, and he urged Americans to come together.
BARACK OBAMA: This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we've got to look out for one another.
RAY SUAREZ: Yesterday, the Obama family volunteered at a local Washington charity, helping those still struggling to make ends meet. They handed out bags of food, complete with turkey, to people in need.
But despite the challenges that face many Americans, today was a time for giving thanks, with all the familiar celebrations.
This morning, in New York City, millions packed the streets for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. And another American tradition -- shopping on Black Friday -- got an even earlier start this year. Many stores opened today with special deals.
Sears opened on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in a century, joining stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, and The Gap. Some shoppers opted to spend their Thanksgiving waiting in line for sales at stores that aren't open today.
MAN: We've been here since last night, yes, and last night was cold.
Very cold. Very cold.
RAY SUAREZ: As many Americans search for bargains, the National Retail Federation, the nation's retail trade group, expects a 2.3 percent increase in holiday spending.