When Thanksgiving comes we take a breath and remember the blessings we have, then most of us settle down to the business at hand. That includes the shopping for mammoth amounts of foods and figuring out who in the family is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or lactose intolerant. Those things change from year to year depending on who is on this year’s list and how many new dietary restrictions have surfaced since the last get together.
All the comings and goings of various relatives in addition to the televised sporting events the men will want to watch has to be coordinated with the Macy’s parade for the children. When the last tail lights have disappeared around the corner, thankfulness that the hosting family can collapse into the nearest chairs is probably the blessing in their minds.
Events of the months since last November have been blemished by multiple catastrophes. The devastation of the hurricanes, the fires in California, the multiple shootings that have shattered our sense of security, the mounting mistrust of those in authority, the threat of a nuclear confrontation—all of these have left us in a more somber mood. With all of those problems, we need an accounting of our blessings.
How many times have we turned on our lights in the past year, opened a faucet and found clean, cold water gushing forth, or slept through the night without the remotest fear of our safety?
Did we go to the grocery store and find the shelves empty or pull into a gas station only to discover there was no fuel?
Did anyone’s child have a strep throat and there was no penicillin in the city, or did any emergency unfold and there were no first responders to arrive within minutes?
The list is endless of things for which we can be grateful; make your own personal accounting of simple blessings of everyday living.
We take so much for granted because it is the normal way of life for so many of us. It is not the normal way of life for far too many. The homeless, the disenfranchised, the poverty-stricken, the oppressed minorities, those living in the aftermath of disasters long after the headlines have moved on to other breaking news—all those will be challenged to be thankful on the special day many of us have more than we need.
There are those who will take time out from their celebration of plenty to remember those in want. There are families who will serve meals at the Rescue Mission, at local churches, at homeless shelters, or participate in events designed to raise money for those who can assume nothing will automatically be supplied to meet their needs.
One of the most outstanding is the Drumstick Dash that raises massive amounts of money for the Rescue Mission. There are many among us too infirm to dash, but checks sent in work quite well.
The Salvation Army bell ringers are out in force. Rather than rationalize that “I gave at the office,” we can get a dollar or two or more out as we walk toward the grocery store. There is no shortage of agencies in desperate need of funding and a visible way to give thanks is to have a family meeting and decide how we can love our less fortunate neighbor as ourselves. It doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving; Christmas is coming, too. All it takes to be truly thankful is to share what we have in a joyful way.
Next time you turn on a light, take a shower, have a hot meal, think about Puerto Rico, Houston, the homeless right here, or countless others who are in need. We shouldn’t assume that we will never be in such a situation and share while we can.