I would like to address this column to the children in our diocese. Would you grown-ups kindly help the youngest with some of the things I want to say here?
In a few short weeks, we will all celebrate one of my favorite holidays — Thanksgiving Day. It is one of my favorites because it means I will be with my family and we will sit down together and have a wonderful meal. It is a time for us to be together and to celebrate the ways God has blessed us. I truly hope and pray you will experience this wonderful feeling of being surrounded by the people you love and who love you.
Sometimes we forget what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about. For many children and just as many adults, it has come to mean one or two days off and the start of the Christmas shopping season. For sports fans, it means lots of football on television. There is nothing wrong with either of those things, of course. In fact, both shopping and sports are fun, and Christmas is, well, Christmas!
But may I suggest that it would be good for all of us, adults included, also to take some time in the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving — and certainly on the day itself — to think a little more about what it means to be thankful and, more importantly, to make a little list in our heads or even on paper about what we have to be thankful for?
It is interesting that the word “thank” came from the same family of words as the word “think.” So it makes a lot of sense to think about being full of thanks and just exactly what we are grateful for.
May I make a little list here to start off your thinking about thanking?
First of all, we should be very thankful that God has put us here in this time and this place. For lots of people, from friends to parents — and yes, even the sister and brother we sometimes fight with — our being here is very special indeed. We all forget sometimes that our presence makes other people’s lives more complete. Let me remind you that you bring great happiness to others just by being here!
When we make out our list of things for which we want to say thank you, we must remember God, of course. God is like a fountain for each of us, pouring out love, individual talents and other things to be thankful for. We call these gifts from God blessings.
All of us should ask ourselves, how has God blessed me? What gifts has God given me? Remember this: No one is left out of God’s love. Everyone is blessed in some way.
Now, I know you are thankful for your parents and others who take care of you. Sure, you might get a little bit mad sometimes when they set down rules for you to follow or nag you about doing your homework. (Grown-ups, by the way, sometimes feel the same way about their bosses at work!) It’s natural to want to do what you want when you want to do it, but we all need someone to help guide us. That’s why parents make rules — so that we know right from wrong. Come to think of it, that’s exactly why God gave us a set of rules we call the Ten Commandments, ways to be good and ways to avoid because they are bad.
Please always remember, if you sometimes forget, that your parents spend much, much more time every day thinking about you and ways they can make your life happy more than anything else. Your parents love you as much as anyone can possibly love.
Here’s another one: I’ll bet you like to go outside. Well, the next time you do, would you just take a moment to stop and look around you? I forget sometimes, too. Sometimes we take “outside” for granted. We see so many big trees and beautiful flowers and lovely sunsets every day that we forget to be thankful for the world God created for all of us.
We forget how amazing the frozen rain we call snow is, how marvelous mountains are, or the way trees can change color and lose their leaves and know when to grow them back. We forget how neat the rain is, and the way it puddles on the ground and makes grass turn bright green overnight, and how it then somehow disappears and goes right back to where it came from.
Be thankful for the stars even as you wonder at them and wish upon them.
Be thankful for the way the bright sun warms your skin, even on the coldest days.
Be thankful for this world God gave us and remember, as someone once said, to stop and smell the flowers. They smell very good indeed.
I could go on and on with all the things we should be thankful for, but I want you to think of some on your own, too.
When we make a habit of making a list of all our blessings, when we see all the things we ought to be thankful for, we discover new things, too. And here is something very nice: Just by making the list and seeing all our wonderful blessings, those little things that bother or anger us just don’t seem as bad anymore.
So happy Thanksgiving and remember: “Think thanks!”
Peace to all.