Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Dystopian Thanksgiving

Last week I asked the youth what they were thankful for.  Marshmallows.  Food.  Running water.  Health.  Family.  Mom.  "Mom" was actually the most common response.  One of them said she was thankful for my movie references that she never gets.  I'm suspicious of that one.

Everything they said had one thing in common.  They were all positive.  Pleasant.  Things they like.

So more of this:

Image result for family thanksgiving

And not so much of this:

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Full disclosure: this is a dramatization.  As far as I know,
the Arch in Saint Louis is still in one piece.
Usually if you ask people what they are thankful for, they're going to tell you things they like.  It's things they're glad they have or people they're glad they know or experiences they enjoyed.  That makes sense.  I could make a pretty long list of things I'm thankful for too!  My wife and two fantastic kids.  A job I enjoy.  Health.  Friends.  Shoe laces.  You know, all the normal things.

That's garden-variety thankfulness.  That doesn't mean it's not important, because it is.  Acknowledging the things that brighten our lives brightens them even more!  Focusing on those things that make our life enjoyable and pleasant has a way of making us feel fortunate, even lucky.

There are, however, a number of things in my life I wish had been different.  Things I wish I had done differently.  Things that happened to me that I wish hadn't.  These are the unpleasant.  They are things most of us stuff in the basement of our minds and hope we don't see again.  And yet, they are.  They are a part of what makes me who I am.  I like who I am, and so in some oddish kind of way, I am thankful even for those things I wish hadn't had to happen.  Even for people who have in some way wronged me.  They have, in part, made me.  It's hard to be thankful...but how can I not be?  After all, I have wronged every person in my life, without exception.  And while I hope that the good I have done outweighs those wrongs...maybe it doesn't always.  Can those people still be thankful for me?

Thankfulness can be a great first step in forgiveness.  It means recognizing the good someone has done in your life and choosing to focus on it instead of the bad.  I have some work to do on this.  Maybe more than most people; I'm not sure.  I often wind up thinking about that this time of year.  I'm thankful for food, yes.  And indoor plumbing.  Maybe not so much for marshmallows.  But Thanksgiving is, for me, a challenge to be thankful for everyone in my life, not just the ones I like overmuch.  It's hard; I probably won't get there.  Human nature is a pain in the butt.  Still, I'm trying, and Easter Hope springs eternal (he says, as the church is headed firmly into Advent!).

Not sure how to put that into a table blessing for Thursday, exactly.  And it doesn't go especially well in a Hallmark card.  Shoot.  I'm not even sure what this has with Thanksgiving and turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie.  But I won't worry about that for now.  The first step is getting my mind around it.

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