By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
The nation’s day of Thanksgiving is on our hearts and minds. Where are you going? Or, who’s coming to your house? Or, what’s your favorite pie on Thanksgiving Day are just a few of the questions asked at this time of year. This celebration goes back to the beginning of Europeans coming to the North America but when it comes to thankfulness itself, it goes back a long way. I mean a long way. Faith matters.
I didn’t grow up in a home where thankfulness was practiced well. I barely remember hearing the words, “thank you” as a child. Much of what got done in my early years were tasks of duty. Loyalty ruled, and we did things because we needed to do them. I don’t remember my mother or father thanking me for keeping my room clean or helping with the dishes or taking the trash cans to the street for the weekly pick-up. We just did them. They were grateful, I suppose. They just didn’t say so… as “thanks” may have been implied… just rarely spoken. And my life reflects that early learning as I now must be extra intentional to share words of thanks to people in my life. Really. But, that’s not the point here… it’s just a good set-up as to saying, “thank you” Being thanked is about them. Being thankful is about me and you! One can be thankful without words.
Try it sometime.
I try to be thankful every day. It seems the more I do this, then as Thanksgiving Day rolls around each year, I leak a bit more of gratitude!
I realized long ago… I don’t have to be here. But I am; and for that I give thanks. Every day is a gift, right? My great-grandmother may have not survived the boat ride from Bremen, Germany in 1870. But, she did. My great-great grandfather could have been killed at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, but he wasn’t. My father could have married a woman from San Antonio in 1951. But, he didn’t. He returned to Ohio and married my mother and in this short recollection of events, a thousand things could have happened throughout history that would have paved a path for my non-existence. Yours, too! So, let’s face it… each and every one of us is a miracle… for not a one of us has to be here.
That alone is reason to be thankful on Thursday!
Do you work long hours? Be thankful you have a job. Is your car in the shop? Be thankful you have modern transportation. Do you have a hole in your shoe? Yeah, you have shoes. Do your children run up to you and make noise and ask all kinds of annoying questions? Be thankful there’s a next generation of you and before you sit down with family and friends for your meal on Thursday, you may want to make of a list of your own.
No one gets through life alone. If we try, we get lost and lostness leads to danger. Community is key and our family and friends are the core of that community. Is that easy? Not always. But, it’s very important. Stopping to acknowledge this reality is good. Giving pause to our phrenetic days and weeks feeds our spirit and gives peace to our hearts and minds. It’s good to be busy, but it’s not good for any of us to keep such a pace that ultimately steals our joy.
When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea into freedom, outrunning Pharaoh’s army, they stopped to dance and raise their voices in praise to the One who led them to a new day. So, dance and sing– as thankfulness is always bigger than a November turkey and sweeter than a slice of pumpkin pie… even though it’s a good start!
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected].