November 23, 2015
Some things can’t be done alone.
No one ever imagined the ultimate Thanksgiving experience as a solo performance. TV dinners with turkey and potatoes – heated and served on a tray – set up in front of a high-definition flat-screen carrying cable series marathons never comes to mind as the iconic Norman Rockwell print. As irritating as some family members can be when gathered for an annual feast, it wouldn’t be the same without some of the turkeys around the table focused on the turkey at the center of the table.
This Thursday, some conversations will be slotted into the commercial breaks during the NFL holiday games. For others, all screens will be de-powered as the family quarterback (Dad? Mom?) mandates the mantra that precedes the “White or dark?” question that kicks off the feast. Before you get your plate, you must answer the annual query: “What are you thankful for?”
It can be embarrassing, really. In 2015 America, entitlement poison is in the water, and we’re at risk of living with a near-fatal dose accumulating in our soul. If I’m entitled to everything, I’m grateful for nothing; why be thankful for what I had coming?
Carpooling with the entitlement delusion is a companion confusion that pops up regularly, especially among the accomplished. It’s called “I did it my way!” and it promotes the self-made-person philosophy. If pond scum could become the biological human through Darwinian evolution… why couldn’t that human claim sovereignty over all that he/she enjoys, by their own creation? Spontaneous magnificence strains thoughtful consideration; great results are always the product of greater forces.
So… here we are, around the Thanksgiving table. “What are you thankful for?” Three possibilities:
- I’m not thankful… because I deserve everything I enjoy; my entitlement displaces gratitude
- I’m the source of everything I enjoy… so if I’m thankful to anyone, it’s me
- I’m aware of the good things that I enjoy, and I recognize those who are their source
Thanksgiving was – originally – a community experience bringing individually-thankful people together for a collaborative recognition of the Source of the things that they could have characterized as #1 or #2 from the above options. The Pilgrims did the beta-test, in America’s earliest days; it was finally declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Lincoln, during the Civil War: “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The recipe for a great Thanksgiving isn’t in a cookbook: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:15-20).
Some families pull out the football on Thanksgiving afternoon, and the crowd finds grass to work off some stuffing. There’s no such thing as “solitaire football:” you can’t play catch by yourself.
You can’t do Thanksgiving if you have no one to thank. Throwing gratitude without a receiver puts you in the logical swamp of #1 or #2. You have much that you don’t deserve… and, you didn’t create the greatest things you enjoy. Thank people, and thank God, for the things you enjoy most: it will be the most satisfying part of Thursday’s experience!
I’m thankful to you for reading my musings every Monday! Happy Thanksgiving!