My mother is having surgery this week, which will result in her spending the next month reclining in bed. In preparation for this, we spent yesterday running errands. Many of these took place at the mall…already decorated with Christmas decorations, with Christmas songs playing through the speakers and Santa ready to have his picture taken. This is a big no-no in my book. So, I’ll ask in advance for your forgiveness for the soapbox I’m about to climb on.
Thanksgiving is a really important holiday on my calendar. Having had the opportunity to spend time in 3rd world countries in both Asia and Africa, I really had my eyes opened to how very much I have to be thankful for. One of the images seared in my mind, is leaving a village in Africa that we had been visiting. We had eaten lunch in the compound of our friends who lived there before we left. As was custom we buried our trash. As we were pulling away we saw several of the village children run to where we had buried our garbage and pick through it trying to find something left over that they could eat. (If we could have fed them we would have, but this was a village of 10,000 people-you can’t just feed a few.) To watch children with distended bellies, caused by malnutrition, picking through garbage to try and find anything to eat was one of the most heartbreaking and humbling experiences of my life. Coming back to the United States after experiences like that is always a huge shock. Suddenly all of the things that previously had seemed essential for living were just trivial.
I share this, because I think this is part of why Thanksgiving almost seems like a blip on the radar for many Americans. We as a society are so blessed, that sometimes we forget how much we have. It gets to the point where we just expect to have not only the things we need but the things we want. Even the poorest people in American society can find a hot meal and a roof to sleep under thanks to food pantries and homeless shelters. When we have so much, it is so easy to want more. I think about my recent visit to see my brother’s family. Watching cartoons with my four-year old niece, she kept telling me “I want that,” in regards to every toy commercial that came on. This desire for things, is why I think we tend to go from Halloween to Christmas, giving little thought to actually giving thanks. What kid doesn’t love a chance to get buckets full of candy at other people’s expense? Show me a person who doesn’t like to receive a gift.
As I prepare to sit in a waiting room on Wednesday, I’m thankful for the wonderful woman who is my mother. She has loved me unconditionally, believed in me, encouraged my dreams, and taught me to always think of others. I really couldn’t ask for a better mother.
I’ll step off of my soapbox now. If you are reading this, I would just ask that you take the time this Thanksgiving to really think about all of the things you have to be thankful for. Oh…and enjoy the big meal and football too!