This week is Thanksgiving. On the surface Thanksgiving is when, we Americans, gather together on a Thursday in November, eat turkey, watch football and start the Christmas season. Somehow this time to stop and give thanks for all we have been given has devolved into gluttony, commercialism and a day off. At least most of us have not given up on it being a day spent with our families, but I do fear we have gotten away from the true meaning of the day.
It is meant as a symbol and a day to be thankful for being a citizen of the greatest nation on earth, a place where most of us have more than the average citizen of almost every other nation could dream of. It is a day when we should be remembering that the Pilgrims who started this whole ball rolling by simply celebrating their very survival.
Think about what most of us have in a global context. I would guess that everyone reading this has a roof over their head and shelter. Many do not have that very common necessity. They might not have shelter because of a natural disaster or simply because they are too poor to have even the most basic of things we all require. Factor in that most of us live in houses that are luxurious based on the standards of the rest of the world and we have a great deal to be thankful about.
While you are being thankful, walk over to the sink and pour a glass of water. The faucet came on when you wanted it too and clean, safe water came out. That is a blessing that many in this world can only dream about. Imagine depending on a poor well, or worse yet, a dirty, polluted river for all your drinking water. Imagine carrying that water a great distance back to your house. To have clean, safe water at any moment, without thought is something we should be thankful for.
Walk to your refrigerator and look in, check out your pantry and open your freezer. I bet they are all full of food, even if this is grocery shopping day. Each day, one of our biggest dilemmas is what to have for supper. We have choices and more astonishingly leftovers. I would guess each of us waste more food than many in this world consume. Without a doubt we take food for granted. I am proud to be one who produces the safest, most abundant food supplies in the world and I take this for granted. Who wants to eat leftovers when we can get in our car drive a short distance and have someone else prepare our meal or even have them deliver that meal to us. We take our food supply, safety and choices for granted. Most in this world are simply happy to have a meal let alone three and they would never even dream of choices. We are without a doubt blessed to be well nourished,
Did you wake up feeling safe this morning? Are you worried about your family’s safety? Most of us don’t even give it a second thought. We know our homes and persons are protected by the local law enforcement and our freedom is guarded by our armed forces. That is a privilege, a basic necessity that we take for granted that many are not afforded around the globe. Did you voice your opinion today, go to church this week or vote earlier this month? These things we assume as part of our birthright and never take a moment to be thankful for.
Did you drive your car today? How many do you have? Watch television, play on the computer? Is there boat in your shed? We Americans have so much stuff because the necessities of life, shelter, food, water and safety are so easily and cheaply taken care of. We spend very little of our incomes on things we must have and a great deal on things we want. We should be thankful that we have so much and live in a land of great abundance.
Do I mean to make you feel guilty for all you have? No, not really, although maybe we should feel a twinge of something. Rather I want you to take stock in all that you have and all the blessings in your life. I don’t want any of us to sleep walk through this day. It is easy to do with all the distractions. I simply want each of us to take a moment and reflect on all we have been given and how fortunate each of us are, no matter our situation or station in life. If you are a citizen of the United States, reading this column, you probably have a great amount to be thankful for. I know I certainly do.