Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to be Thankful in America

Our 2012 Thanksgiving Table
Holidays are good things.  I love reasons to celebrate, reminders to appreciate blessings in our lives, opportunities to commemorate special events.  Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Thanksgiving are definitely my top three holidays for those reasons.

Remember in elementary school when we made Native American head-dresses and pilgrim collars out of construction paper?  We were taught about that Thanksgiving commemorate a time when two opposing cultures came together to celebrate survival, community and blessings.  We were told to take the opportunity to remember everything we have.

After the turkey and the pumpkin pie, we're told to count our blessings, make lists of what we're thankful for, and to celebrate family.

But is that it?

I've always noticed that the word thanksgiving is a noun with a verb built in.  Thanksgiving is literally the act of giving thanks, demonstrating gratitude or showing appreciation.

But what does it mean to be truly thankful in a First World Country where you have so much extra and have never been in want?

Does it mean not purchasing that shirt that you want to buy?  Does it mean being a good steward with your money?  Does it mean donating?  What does being thankful really look like?

I want to really exercise appreciation every day.  I want to be sure that I'm not living a lie.

Perhaps the most practical way to demonstrate thankfulness is giving back.  We have all of this stuff that we don't really need.  But what do we do with it?  Do we use our car to give someone a ride?  Do we lend a jacket to someone who is cold?  Do we use our grocery money for the canned food drive?  Do we sacrifice an hour of sleep to listen to a hurting friend?

True thankfulness begins and ends with the heart.  It is a giving of all we have, both the material and non-material, and understanding that what we have is for a better and a higher purpose than our little lives.  And we, regardless of where we live, are the instruments called with the task of implementing those gifts.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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