In a nation where we have such an abundance at this point in history, we have more reasons than ever to be thankful and to give thanks to God for our blessings. I saw a special on Sunday morning about food in America. We still have people who go hungry in the face of billions of tons of food that is thrown out annually in this country.
We have so much at our fingertips – grocery stores, restaurants, farm stands. We take a lot for granted. It hasn’t been that many decades ago that people still had to survive by their own labor in the gardens, preserving, canning, hunting, fishing, and gathering. We have grown lazy and ignorant over the years to the point that most of our population wouldn’t have a clue about how to produce their own food or hunt and gather.
All of our food chain could turn on a dime. A couple of years of drought in our growing fields, flooding, extreme temperatures, or many other factors that could interfere with the food we import and we’d be in trouble.
Anyone who has traveled to other parts of the world and seen poverty in other nations will say that even our poorest are better off than the poor of other nations.
I had my students write a list of things for which they are thankful. It is a good time of year to do this little brainstorming session whether young or old. At first some students said they couldn’t think of anything. Some wrote over 130 individual things for which they were thankful and were still going strong when I had them stop.
We went around the room and each child had to name five things for which they were thankful. At the top of the list were God and Jesus, moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, pets, various relatives and friends. Coming in right behind these were video games, electronics, food, water and shelter. Some students went on to think deeply and named things like arms, legs, eyes, ears, schools, churches, vehicles, schools and freedom.
Freedom is something that we can’t cherish as much with all of our liberties as those who have fought and died for it, or those who have left their country to start a new life with freedom at the center of their existence.
We can think of the big things to be thankful about. I thank God for sending His son to redeem mankind. Like the children in my classroom, I am thankful for the wonderful mom, dad, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who enrich my life. I am thankful for a son, grandson and daughter-in-law. I’m thankful for the freedom to worship and all the other freedoms our country provides. I’m thankful for a job that I love, a dependable car, and a sturdy house that is overcrowded with too much stuff. But there are so many little things we might miss. Some of the little things I appreciate are a comfortable bed and warm covers, a favorite nightgown, pecans, ice, toenail clippers.
I’m thankful for clean movies and good books. I’m thankful for music, photography, and happy smells that bring back memories. I’m thankful for taste buds and the vast array of tastes in the world. I’m thankful for a healthy childhood and happy memories of special people and places. I’m thankful for parking spots close to my destination. I’m thankful for medical breakthroughs.
Someone started a campaign on Facebook to list something new every day for a certain amount of days for which you are thankful. I have really enjoyed reading the thoughtful responses that people have posted.
When life starts getting a little overwhelming and the trials seem too much to bear, running a list of the blessings in our lives will certainly bring back the balance.
One day a year to give thanks just isn’t enough. Every single day would be a better day if we set even five minutes aside to give thanks. I remember growing up that even in the cafeterias at school, it was common for children to bow their heads and give thanks for the food that was before them. Those were in the brown bag lunch days, and yet children took time to give things for the food that had been provided for them. These days, even when food is free and served up hot in front of them, it has been ages since I saw any child bow their head to give thanks. They are more likely to play in their food, pick at it, or throw it away uneaten at the end of the lunch period.
I think we have become a society that takes far too much for granted. We expect our needs to be provided. We expect what we need to be available. We are not used to doing without much of anything.
This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for family and friends with whom I will get to spend this holiday. We do not know what another year may bring forth. Let us give thanks today and each day for our abundant blessings.