Thanksgiving has ended, giving thanks has not.

Full course dinner

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Well, here it is, the end of another Thanksgiving holiday.  Once again I spent it with my wife’s family all gathered at my in-laws house.  There were four generations of family members here to celebrate.  My wife’s grandma, her parents, her five siblings, and all the off-spring.  Of the six children in the family, five are married and each of the five have at least on child.  All in all, there are currently 18 grandchildren living.  Add all of that up and there are 32 people that were gathered around a table built for 10.  Actually, we set up additional tables and spread everyone out.

I had meant to write this blog earlier in the day, but you probably understand why I didn’t… I was busy.  There was eating breakfast, playing with kids, eating lunch, napping, playing with kids, taking a walk with my wife, eating, watching a movie, and now…listening to my wife and daughter snore while I write a blog post.  What a day it has been.

The day is almost over…it is nearly midnight…and the crazy masses have already declared Thanksgiving done and Christmas season begun.  And as a small piece of advice, avoid the WalMart in Nampa, Idaho.  And probably everywhere else.

So with the day drawing to a close, I must say that it is merely a day that is ending, not the thanks that has been given.  No amount of turkey, potatoes & gravy, stuffing, or pie can detract from the fact that we have much to be thankful for.  Let’s start for instance with the food just mentioned.  If you had a Thanksgiving feast, count yourself blessed more than probably 90% of the world’s population (which is over 7 billion if you didn’t already know that).  Heck, if you even had a simple meal to eat today you were blessed more than most everyone else.

This brings me to an interesting thought.  What would a homeless person that hasn’t eaten yet today, or maybe had to salvage scraps from a garbage can, have to be thankful for?  Would they be thankful for their lives?  Would they be thankful for the clothes they have on their back?  Probably.  Are you?  Or do you take it for granted.

Earlier today I posted on Facebook that I was grateful for Facebook, so that I could read what I was grateful for in all the posts that my “friends” made throughout the day.  All I had to say was ditto.  And though I made the comment with a little bit of humor on my mind, I was quite serious.  I was nice to read what so many people are thankful for.

Now here is a question for you: How many of you were so thankful that you shared what you had today with someone who didn’t have?  How did you use the gratitude that you have to help someone else be thankful for receiving a blessing from your hands?

Isn’t that how we show our gratitude?  I know we can offer a word of prayer (if you are the praying type) or share a card or a verbal thank-you to friends and loved ones.  But isn’t there something more that we can do?

Hey, I am guilty of not sharing with the less fortunate myself.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the holiday and the traditions that come with it that we fail to think of those that may not have the chance to celebrate.  There are times that I wish I had done more.  There have been times that I did.

I remember one year my family provided a Thanksgiving meal to a family in our neighborhood.  We did it anonymously because we didn’t want them to know who it was from, just that they were loved.  The husband had recently lost his job, the wife had had her hours cut, and both of their families lived far enough away that they couldn’t afford the gas to drive home for the holiday.  Had we stayed at home that year for the Thanksgiving, maybe we would have invited them to join us.  But since we weren’t we at least wanted to provide their meal.

It felt good to provide a meal and I only wonder if they enjoyed the day as much as we had hoped.  They said that they had a great holiday but never made mention of the food left on their doorstep.  But they were taken care of and knew someone cared for them.

I am still grateful we did that.  I know that my gratitude increases when I share what I have.  One of the first commandments God gave was to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.  One of the interpretations I have of that commandment is to share what I have.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.  Now we enter into the holiday season where we celebrate His birth and life here on earth.  If we are to love our neighbor as we really should, we will love them as Christ loves us.  If we are to love as Christ loves, we will have charity.  If we have charity, we are giving.  If we are giving, we are sharing ourselves and those things we have been blessed with.  We have thanks and are giving.  Hence we have Thanksgiving.

So as the clock strikes twelve and we move into Friday, remember that the holiday may have ended but the actions never should.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Another view from a Palmtree.

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Giving thanks for…

It’s Thanksgiving 2010. This year I am spending it in Montana at my wife’s sisters house with our families. Their mom, dad, grandma, and youngest sister also came to share in the festivities.

This is a different experience for me. Normally I only come to the farm in Montana for the 4th of July holiday. It makes a great family vacation that the kids love to take in the summer. Riding horses, four-wheelers, tractors, mosquitos (yes they are that big…and if you are too heavy, they will gang up to help out), and playing in the pond with the trout. Yep, it is summer camp without the expense and with relatives. The only thing that makes it better is having fireworks…because nothing is illegal in Montana. I am thankful that my family has those opportunities.

So this year instead of going to my wife’s parent’s house in Meridian, Idaho, we chose to come to Montana. The trip was going to start out on Tuesday afternoon. It is normally about a 7.5 hour drive. Well, my daughter made the girls basketball team at her high school and the first game was scheduled for Tuesday night, so we postponed the trip for a day. (By the way, I am thankful that my daughter made the team, especially after she dislocated her knee after only a few minutes of stretches on the first day of tryouts.)

Tuesday came and with it a blizzard…one that was supposed to be so bad that the ballgame was cancelled for the safety of the visiting team that had to travel. We checked the weather conditions for our route of travel and found out that the road we needed to take was closed for the main stretch that didn’t have any alternatives. The areas that were still open were covered in snow and ice. We were supposed to be on the road at 6:00 am the next morning and suddenly it looked like we weren’t even going to be able to make the journey. We decided to wait until the morning and see if there were any improvements.

I figured there would be no point in getting up as early as we had planned. After all, how much work would be done on the roads during the middle of the night? 7:30 am came around and the roads were open with a lot of caution warnings. We got all packed up and were on the road by 10:30 am. At that time we figured we would be at the house in time for dinner.

Just before 8:00 pm we arrived. Yes, our journey took us an extra couple of hours and in some ways we were lucky it was that short. I have never driven on worse roads. I take that back, I have…but I didn’t have any passengers, I wasn’t married or a parent and definitely didn’t feel responsible for any other lives. This trip, however, was definitely different as I was now responsible for six other lives inside my vehicle, and wanting to make sure that we stayed safe and they all got to live long lives. I am very thankful that we traveled in safety and arrived without incident. We hardly even slid on the ice patches. The only problem with the trip is that I got a major case of TB…and no, not tuberculosis. My dad would especially appreciate it as he didn’t have much of a gluteal muscle to provide padding when he sat.

It was nice to relax the rest of the evening inside the warm house. I was definitely thankful that we had shelter…it was forecast to get below 0 degrees overnight with the wind chill factor supposedly getting to -30 degrees. I don’t know if it really got that cold because I was inside and I slept really well.

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, and the kids were raring to go. Remember, we are used to riding horses and four-wheelers when we come here. Add in snow with that fun. Plus, everyone was hoping that the pond was frozen over so that we could ice skate. However, using four-wheelers on the pond while pulling a sled would be even more fun. Unfortunately the ice wasn’t thick enough, but the hay field still had plenty of snow. I was thankful for that.

All of this is fine and dandy, and I am definitely blessed to be able to have such fun times, but an added measure of gratitude came after I came in the house from riding four-wheelers and got on the internet to read some news stories from around the world.

I have much to be thankful for. I don’t have to go through the ordeal of being adrift in the ocean for 50 days like three teenagers (two 14 year olds and a 15 year old) were in the South Pacific. They survived off raw fish, a bird they caught, and rain water (sea water when it didn’t rain). Their families figured they were gone for good and had already held memorial services for them. Imagine the gratitude they all feel…and I feel it for them.

I don’t have to go through the ordeal of being stuck in my bathroom for three weeks like the lady in England. No, she wasn’t stuck on the toilet. I think that would have made it worse. The door handle somehow broke and she was not able to get the door open. And there was no window in the bathroom. She survived and was found. She got out of the bathroom and had to recover in a hospital, but she is grateful. I am glad for her too.

I don’t have to feel sadness at this time for the loss of an infant child due to a rare disease like a friend of my wife’s family. I am grateful for that and even more grateful that this little child is still saved in the love and grace of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This Thanksgiving Day I am blessed. I have a meal to eat until I am sick and for that one reason I am probably richer than at least half of the world population. I have family to be with, unlike many who will spend the day alone. I am in a warm house, which many people can only wish for…today and many more still to come.

And for all of you that have a chance to read this, I am thankful that you have that opportunity. Hopefully you are thankful too, because how many more people don’t have computers, don’t even have access to the internet or can’t read?

We are all blessed to different degrees and we are all probably thankful to different degrees. I hope we are thankful. If you can’t find reason to be, start counting your blessings. List them one by one. Start with life. The turkey on the table doesn’t even get to count that one.

Just another view from a Palmtree.