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Thanksgiving Thoughts

As is only proper for this time of the year, I’ve been counting my blessings the last few days. That is something we should do every day, of course, but especially during this special season, which has been set apart for just that purpose.

I’m thankful that I live in a country that affords me great freedoms, of expression, of worship, of opportunities to better myself, and of so much more that people of other countries far different would die for. No matter how turbulent, divided, muddied, and poisoned the political waters are at the moment, I’m still privileged to live in the greatest country on earth.

I’m thankful for family, both immediate and extended. For the history, legacy, and examples afforded me by my ancestors. For the kindred fellowship of the present, even if it does happen infrequently in a family whose members are geographically far flung. For the various social media that allow us to stay in touch far better than our ancestors were able to do. (And for younger family members who help us older members navigate those media!) For my four daughters and the four sons-in-law and the seven grandchildren they’ve given us. And even for their three dog (although I’m also thankful that the dogs are at their houses, not mine!). For my wife of more than 42 years, who has stuck with me through good times and bad, through multiple moves and job changes. Who willingly put her own career on hold to birth and rear and educate our children before resuming it afterward. Who humors and encourages my writing vice.

I’m thankful for so much more, but time and space won’t allow me to keep listing them all.

The act of giving thanks, not just one day a year but continually, is an attitude that tends to preclude and exclude complaining. As the saying goes, “I complained because I didn’t like my shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” We all could benefit from developing an “attitude of gratitude.”

I could complain and become bitter because my mother was killed by a drunk driver, but I choose to be thankful that I still have precious memories of her and the rich legacy of her example. I could lament the fact that she died so young, or I can be grateful for the fact that God has allowed me to live (so far) more than a decade and a half than she lived.

I could feel sorry for myself because I lost my father to a rare heart disease and, consequently, my children grew up without one of their grandfathers, but it’s much better to remember the important life lessons he taught me in his characteristically quiet and unassuming way.

I could gripe and complain that my truck suddenly died on me. Or I can be thankful that it happened just as I got home from a short trip and not in the middle of four lanes of interstate traffic during rush hour. I can be thankful that I have AAA towing to get it to the dealer’s repair facility and that I could get an appointment for the repairs during a holiday period when they’re booked solid. And I can be thankful that we’ll be having so many guests during this week, which provides ample opportunities for transportation.

The Bible predicts that in the last days, people generally will behave in incredibly bad ways, and those actions will be rooted in certain foundational attitudes. We see that prophecy being fulfilled all around us today. People are selfish, covetous, boastful, proud, unholy, lack natural affection, break their word, falsely accuse others, despise good people who are doing good things, commit treason, etc. Often overlooked amid those terrible vices that 2 Timothy 3:1-5 lists is the descriptive word unthankful. I wonder how many of the other sins listed are actually the fruit of the seed of unthankfulness?

I invite you, the readers of this blog, to join me this Thanksgiving season in accepting the challenge to be truly thankful rather than ungrateful and complaining. I’m reminded of the lyrics of the old Petula Clark song:

“Some are lucky, some are not [though luck has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m writing about], But just be thankful for what you’ve got.”

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