If you’re waiting anxiously for Thanksgiving, you’re not alone. The holiday fun is topped year after year by the food and the company. There is also a growing effort by some communities to make sure that the neediest of us gets to enjoy a good meal on that day.
Though I’m a big, big football fan, even the gridiron takes a backseat to the foodie’s favorite holiday in our home. The more Thanksgivings I put behind me, the more they run together. But two stand out for me. In the mid-’90s, I lived in Oxford and, just as we were finishing our Thanksgiving meal, I got a phone call from a friend. A tobacco warehouse was on fire.
I left the table-clearing to my family and spent the next couple hours at one of the biggest fires I’ve ever seen. No one was hurt, but the warehouse burned to the ground. A few days later I learned some neighborhood boys had been charged with setting it on fire.
One other Thanksgiving, just a few years later, also stands out because it’s the only Thanksgiving I ever remember eating out. We ate at a Chinese restaurant in Marion, just down the mountain from where we lived in Mitchell County. The restaurant wasn’t deserted, but traffic was particularly light; I remember thinking how unfortunate people were having to work that day.
Amid the food, family and fellowship, it’s hard to remember that Thursday is a day for being thankful for what you have. I’m not sure many of us really do that, beyond being grateful for a day off from work. Too often, we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. I’m as guilty of that as you probably are.
When my wife takes a trip, I quickly grow to appreciate all that she does for our family. When I sit in church each Sunday morning, I don’t often think about the kind people who sit around me and would help me if ever I needed it. Long ago, when my wife was sick for an extended period of time, members of the church we attended at that time poured out their kindness upon us; that particular event hasn’t been forgotten, but it isn’t something that comes to mind every day. I should consider my church family a second family.
When I open the refrigerator at home and pull out a carton of ice cream, I don’t consider just how thankful I should be for that. When the temperature gets colder and colder, it never occurs to me to be grateful for the heat, for the people who bring the fuel and for the ability to pay for it when the bill comes due.
If we stop and think, there are far too many people out there who can’t be thankful for those things because they don’t have them. And if we stop and think about the mundane, everyday comforts of our lives, it quickly becomes apparent that on this Thursday above all others, we should spend time being thankful – truly thankful – for our riches.
Even if our riches don’t come in the form of gold, there is a lot to be thankful for – from the people in our lives to the opportunities we are given. And, yes, I would argue that even the challenges that get in our way are something to be thankful for, because they make us stronger.
So enjoy your turkey this year. But don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Take a minute to consider what you have to be thankful for.