With author Rodney Strange
Thanksgiving. Quick, name what first comes to mind when you hear the word. Food...lots of it. Football, Black Friday, a day off from work, kinfolk that you may or may not be particularly fond of, all are fairly common events that most of us associate with Thanksgiving. I'm not overly fond of turkey but the bird was a freebie this year so I suppose I'll choke it down. I'm as fond of football as I am of turkey but I will turn on the game after the feast. A Dallas Cowboy game is always good for a group nap in the living room after gorging ourselves on more food than most people in third world countries eat all year long. Black Friday, which officially kicks off the Christmas season, threatening to preempt Thanksgiving every year, is an event I choose not to participate in. And that revered holiday time your employer is so gracious to extend out of the goodness of their hearts...well, I'm retired so every day is a holiday for me. So, what's the point of Thanksgiving? I'm here to inform you that it's none of the above.
Today's America tends to see Thanksgiving as well...what I said in the last paragraph. We have become an ungrateful society that takes things for granted and are generally unwilling to be thankful. There is an alarming trend throughout our country to be discontent and in a loud way. There are those who have become grumblers, whiners, and complainers. These folks voice their displeasures on social media constantly, making the rest of us weary. Is there nothing in these peoples' lives to be thankful for? Thankfulness is the attitude that replaces our tendency to complain. Some of us need a lot of thankfulness.
Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks, though truthfully shouldn't every day be? Leave it to us to designate one sole day out of the year to pause and give thanks. And now we don't even give thanks on the day we set aside to do so.
I'm thankful for the little things. Thankful for dunking sticks and Folgers Columbian coffee. I'm thankful for chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy. I'm thankful that I am able to have these things any time I wish. I'm thankful for my own tiny piece of planet earth, rightfully mine lock, stock, and barrel bought outright with years of blood, sweat, and tears...and pecans. I'm thankful for pecans. I like pecan pie and that pecan orchard that sits on my tiny piece of planet earth makes pecan pie possible any time I desire it. Those pecans also paid for this piece of dirt I call home.
I'm thankful for the medications that allow me to live a normal life. Afflicted with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Glaucoma, without these medications, my life would be meaningless. Instead, I run with the best of them and am blessed to be able to watch a west Texas sunset anytime I wish. I am thankful for life. Some don't make it this far alive. I'm thankful I have my right mind although sometimes in this world I live in I wonder if I'd e better off crazy. And I'm thankful for Netflix.
There are three levels of thankfulness. One is surface gratitude. If someone holds a door open for you and you respond with a 'thank you,' likely you really didn't mean that. It was just lip service, like the cashier at the supermarket who hands you a receipt and says, 'Thank you' for the five hundredth time during her shift. The second level of thankfulness is sincere gratitude. Some particular occurrence spawns a genuine feeling of thankfulness, whether it be a raise at work or you received that leather jacket you've been wanting at Christmas. Sincere gratitude is a spontaneous feeling of thankfulness that likely comes unexpectedly and catches us off guard. The third level of thankfulness is the one we tend to overlook, that is steadfast thankfulness, an ongoing gratitude for our daily life. I'm thankful for my modest little home and my three vehicles, all bought and paid for. I'm thankful I could pay off what little debt I have today if I choose to. I'm thankful I was able to retire from a thankless job at the age of fifty-nine, allowing me to pursue my dreams. I'm thankful for my daughter, my biggest blessing and my pride and joy. And I'm thankful I have Someone to be thankful to.
There are people who think they have nothing in their life to be thankful for. But ponder this...if you can't be grateful for what you have, you can be thankful for what you've escaped. If you're reading this, you're probably not homeless. You are still alive which means you have something to eat. Yes, you should be thankful that you managed to escape what could have been. Think about it, you could have been a turkey.
There are people who are thankful to no one in particular. Me, I'm thankful to God. He sends me blessings both big and small. Thankfulness is humility and that is something many of us are not good at. Thanksgiving is a time to humble ourselves and become aware of all the blessings the Good Lord has bestowed on us both individually and collectively. With humanity what it is today, it's no wonder that our creator doesn't just hit the reset button and start all over on the universe. But He doesn't because He loves us and has faith in those He created in HIs own image. And that, folks, is something in itself to be thankful for. And that's no little thing.