Once a year in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving; a time to remember to be thankful for all that we have. Friends and family gather together to give thanks over a bountiful meal, with turkey & mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, green beans with slivered almonds, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, fresh rolls from the oven…, and pie! Apple pie (a la mode), pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, even rhubarb pie. Kinda gets your mouth watering.
And football. LOTS of football! This year, depending on the number of channels you pay for, there are 3 NFL games from which to choose; but that’s just the NFL. Did I mention there’s more food! Hot crab dip, onion dip, spicy habanero salsa, and even Tzatziki. Blown your diet yet?
Then think of the next 3 weeks + of turkey & cranberry sauce sandwiches. Maybe not.
Oddly, one of the things missing in all this celebration and comradery is— remembering to give thanks. In most American families not even a prayer of thanks is offered before the meal anymore. Who are we supposed to thank? What’s the history of Thanksgiving? Google it.
Here are some suggestions on how to instill an aspect of thanks-giving into your Thanksgiving.
1. Whether you are the chef, invited guest, or family, gather your wits about you to celebrate with an attitude of how can I serve rather than serve me.
2. If you are a guest, bring something. Anything. It’s historical.
3. DO NOT make football the god-of-the-day.
4. If you believe in God, DO start with a prayer of thanks-giving.
5. If you do not believe in God, at the beginning of the meal, thank the chef! Profusely.
6. Toward the end of the meal, go ‘round the table asking each one there to offer at least one thing for which they are thankful. Kids included.
7. Offer to help with the dishes! If others don’t offer, conscript them. Note- the chef is not allowed to participate in kitchen clean-up.
8. If you are a guest, do not linger about forever. Unless invited to stay, leave after you do the dishes.
9. If you are the host, be gracious, but sit down. Stop!
10. NOW you can sit and watch more football. [After you go for a hike to shed the excess bulk.]
From our family to yours, we wish you the best season of thanks-giving ever. Gobble gobble.
Staying in control is probably the #1 value of most people in Western Society. Being out of control is scary; it is always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness. Personal security, personal independence, and personal significance are our TOP priorities (after food and shelter.) We have this innate fear of being out-of-control.
Some people take it too far; becoming micro-managers at work and a home. They must be hands-on and on-top of everything. If this attitude becomes embedded in a person’s psyche it creates issues of trust and insecurity. Even close friends do not want to be around them. Sometimes, it causes people to hide their true selves from those outside and to cocoon within a private world of fantasy or fear. This is not good for the soul.
However, there is another path to be taken for those who draw their strength and define their identity from somewhere beyond this present realm. It is for those who have decided that being in-control isn’t as safe and secure as they once thought. It is for those who are tired of working so feverishly to have power over everything around them. It is for those who are ready to let go.
Moving beyond being in control is frightening and terrifying. It means that you are consciously removing yourself from the button, the control switch, from being the central figure around whom all others must revolve. You must become such a person who will put your faith, your trust, in others, and, quite frankly, in God.
Why is it that we rise to our point of success in life, only to find a ceiling of doubt and emptiness at the top? The reason is that we were not meant to climb this ladder in isolation, as individuals; we were designed to do it in relationships: first, in relationships with those around us, and second, in relationship with the God who made us. This is not rocket-surgery; it is an obvious observance.
We must move beyond being in control to trust, to delegation, both of responsibility and authority, and to letting go. [Listen— Paul Cardall. Letting Go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUONnfHb7a8 ]. It is in letting go of control that we lose our tightness, our fears, our need for dominance, and put on the cloak of grace.
If you truly want to lead, then you must move beyond being in control and learn to let go.
For what it’s worth,
Following my article on How to Give, my thoughts wandered to the other side of the equation. Namely, that some of us have difficulty in receiving gifts. In our day, even a simple gift gives rise to suspicion in the mind of the receiver … Continue reading
In the spirit of this approaching Christmas season (Hanukkah was over the evening of December 5th) it might be a good time to be reminded of some of the principles of giving. Keep in mind that giving should be meaningful, both for the giver and the receiver. Never give out of rote: give because it is right and good. Ergo—
How to Give—a Seven Point Primer
- Give because it is right. No matter what your definition of right is, giving cannot be construed as anything else. It is not a bribe, a peace offering, or a one-upmanship on the receiver. It must simply be simply right, nothing else.
- Give within your means—with some wee bit of sacrifice. It may never be noticed by the other person. That does not matter. It will secretly mean much much more to you.
- Give in terms of the other person’s wants and needs, NOT in terms of what you would like to give them. When my wife and I were first married I would always give her clothing; she could have cared less. Didn’t even take the blouse or scarf out of the box. Then I noticed she loved to read: so I gave her books. Guess what? She hugged & kissed me and vanished for three days reading the new book. I learned to give in terms of what she wanted.
- Plan for giving. Always try to squirrel away cash-in-a-stash for later giving. It’s freeing! Giving up 2 cups of coffee a week could free up $20 a month. Get the picture?
- Get into the practice of giving. Christmas won’t be such a big thing if you already give to others regularly.
- Give graciously. Not lavishly, unless if seems appropriate to you. There is little in this life that expresses genuine love like sacrificial graciousness.
- Accept ALL gifts with thankfulness and humility. The one giving them has sacrificed for you. Especially be thankful for hand-made gifts, no matter the quality. They are the most precious of all.
Above all, be thankful that you have the means to give anything at all. Not all people on this planet have the resources to give very much. So, if you are one who does, please do not hold back. And always remember the poor in your giving. God does. Please.
/enˈtītlmənt/ Synonyms— right, prerogative, claim.
We are a society of entitlement. The handout, social welfare, governmental healthcare paid for by others, has produced a generation, or two, or three, of people who expect others to take care of them, or at the least, someone to cover for them, to pick up their slack, to meet their needs. Too many of us believe we have a fundamental right to expect this. People have actually said to me “Why should I work when I can make just about as much by not working”
Not unexpectedly, entitlement has also issued a sense of un-thankfulness among many. A simple “Thank you.” is not in our vocabulary. It has been replaced by the silence of self-deserving expectation. No “thank you” necessary, required, or even considered. How can thankfulness arise from a mindset of I deserve it?
Imagine a world where all of us were thankful for even the simplest of things— bread, a place of shelter, a soft pad on which to close our eyes and sleep, a meal, a friend. Imagine a world where everyone was grateful for what they have been given.
Imagine a world where those blessed with abundance wanted to graciously give to those in need— without bread, without shelter, without a place to lay their head. (Patrick Dempsey comes to mind.) How can we shift an entitlement-mindset to an enrichment-mindset, where people want to contribute to the greater good, to the blessing upon others? THIS is what genuine Christians should be about, immersed in their surrounding towns, neighborhoods, and the world.
In our society we have an abundance. Some of it we have earned; a lot of it we have been given. Give thanks to where it is due. Oh, one more thing…