It’s Thanksgiving Day! Before you enjoy that turkey, and other traditional treats, take a moment and think about what you have to be thankful for. Even as we struggle with the worst moments of our lives, we can still find reasons to be grateful. Maybe today is one of those days for you, but I hope not. I truly pray that this Thanksgiving is a day full of joy and reminders of everything amazing in your life from the past year.
Here’s a little bit from my list:
- I’m thankful for my God, the Father and Creator for the universe that we live in and all of the wonders in it. I’m thankful for the Earth, and the beauty that we find in it. I’m thankful for how the whole of creation inspires the creators within us.
- I’m thankful for my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for his sacrifice. I’m thankful for his mercy. I’m thankful for his words and his example. I’m thankful that I’m allowed to follow him.
- I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit, the Helper and Comforter. I’m thankful for my growing understanding of his presence. I’m thankful for his guidance.
- I’m thankful for my wife. For so many reasons, she is the perfect woman for me, and I wouldn’t have become the man that I am today without her inspiring and supporting me.
- I’m thankful for my children, and the opportunity to raise them. I’m thankful that each one of them is different, and that they each teach me something new about myself.
- I’m thankful for my family. My parents, grandparents, and sister. I’m thankful for the family I married into. I’m thankful for all of these voices speaking into my life.
- I’m thankful that for the work that I am able to do. I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough, and skilled enough to work steadily. I’m thankful that my work allows me the time and resources to give back through my church and charities.
- I’m thankful for the growing community of friends and mentors that are a part of my life. I’m thankful for what each one of them contributes. I’m thankful that I have been entrusted with each relationship.
There are so many reasons to be grateful, more than any list could cover. What are you thankful for today?
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment. “What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work. Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
It’s convenient to give others power over us. It’s simpler to claim the world is working against us. Your pain is easier to bear when it’s there because of somebody else. Staying down as a victim will always feels safer than standing up and owning your life. We don’t like thinking that we’re responsible for our own joy and satisfaction.
Still, we are responsible.
We get to choose who we let speak into our lives. Which people will advise us, and who will be our mentors.
While others may still say and do things that hurt us, we control the weight that pain will carry into the future. We control how much their words matter, and how quickly to forgive them.
We get to decide if we will see problems in our home or workplace as the fault of others, or if we’ll see them as opportunities for us to try amazing and interesting solutions.
Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others.
We also get to choose how to interact with the world, and everything in it.
Food. Do we eat for energy? Or for inspiration? Or for comfort?
Money. Do we earn to provide? Or to be charitable? Or to gain power?
We can answer similar questions for our education, our work, our homes, our investments, our toys, and on and on. What is the purpose of each named thing in our circle of influence? In every part of our lives, we can do so much more with it when we clarify the reason why it’s there.
So, what will the next “town” be like for you? It’s as you will it to be. Any change of venue you make will still have you in it. What will you be bringing with you? You do get to choose. Maybe it’s time to unload some of that old baggage so you have the ability to experience something new.
Final Thoughts: Matthew 25 is pretty clear that everything that we have has been given to us by God, and that he expects us to do something with it. If that’s true, why did he give you a home? Also, what if this applies to relationships? What does that mean for the children he’s given us?
It’s Thanksgiving. I’m going to be enjoying my turkey and cranberry sauce with some family and friends this year. I have a lot to be thankful for.
If you’re stuck working today, I’m sorry. I hope you can get some time with your family. Thanks for being available to perform the needed service that the rest of us might require today. We really do appreciate it.
If you’re not looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner, because the turkey will be more like jerky or your family will be less than friendly, then I can only offer you a small consolation. Be happy you don’t have to eat this instead:
That very angry looking meal is from James Lileks’ Gallery of Regrettable Food, which has been published in book form, and also has an occasionally updated Interweb presence. The Gallery re-introduces the viewer to the cookbooks of days gone by. Using images and text from these forgotten tomes of the “Golden Age of Butter,” Lileks masterfully puts the entire era into its proper and most humorous frame of reference.
For example, did you know that you can “fresh up” those everyday dull dishes with the lively flavor of 7-Up? Use it to baste your ham, add it to salad dressing, or even bake a cake with it (with 7-Up icing!). How can we have forgotten, in a mere two generations, the endless culinary uses of this simple soft drink? It’s a travesty.
The Gallery contains an amazing array of such wonders and educational moments. I encourage you to take just a few moments and learn all about:
- The Wonders of Meat Fisting (Yes, really. No, I’m not at all ashamed that I’m sharing this.)
There is more, of course, but I don’t want to deprive you the joy of exploring the Gallery on your own. So, before you’ve stuffed yourself on the Thanksgiving spread, take a few moments and go appreciate what you don’t have to eat. You’ll be thankful that you did.