Give thanks for the good in your life

November 24, 2011

Listening to his father thank the Almighty at suppertime for all the family’s blessings — which at that particular point in time amounted to a lonely bowl of potatoes — a young Abraham Lincoln reportedly grumbled, “Mighty poor blessings.”

Yet how many times has it been remarked upon that a paucity of blessings in the material sense permits us to focus on what matters in life? ATMs do not spit out love and kindness.

An inventory of blessings this Thanksgiving might yield reduced amounts of fruit if we seek them out in the traditional places. Homes aren’t worth what they were, gas is through the roof and the stock market resembles a demolition derby. The greatness of our nation is in question, our leaders have no answers for economic problems and even the weather seems to have turned against us.

Then-candidate Obama’s admonishment of hope now might seem to some a tarnished and cruel hoax, fool’s gold at the end of an unfindable rainbow.

But we do still have hope, even if sometimes it’s about all we have. And it is important that we give thanks for what we have at present, keep our spirits up and look with optimism toward the future. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of perspective. We fret (and rightly so) over the 9 percent who have no job without giving thanks for the 91 percent who do.

If we are warm today, we should be thankful. If we have food today, we should be thankful. If we have a place where the wind does not batter our ears, we should be thankful. If we are healthy, have friends or a loving dog, we should be thankful.

We should also be thankful if we can find it within ourselves to focus on those who have less than we do rather than on those who have more. Both groups will always be with us. We can watch those with more and resent what we don’t have, or we can watch those with less and be grateful for what we ourselves have — and commit to giving a little of what we posess to those in need.

The old saw has it that it’s better to give than to receive. It’s also easier. This Thanksgiving, we celebrate the fact that we, as Americans, generally lead good lives. And if we can give someone with less a reason to be thankful, too, we should not miss the chance.

This Thanksgiving, we wish you good food, good companions, good football and the most meaningful gift of all — the ability to be truly grateful for it.

The Herald-Mail Articles