It’s Thanksgiving Day! As much as I’m not a fan of these holidays, I am aware of how much I have to be thankful for, and especially so today as it’s a day to ponder all the gifts and good things around us. I was telling a friend a week or so ago that I never dreamed I would have so much. It may seem a tough road at times, but along the way there are inexpressible and undeserved gifts of grace if we just slow down long enough to see (and accept) them.
It seems a bit sad to me (despite my dread of them) that the holidays have become so commercial and so “I need more, more, more” driven. Reading about friends lined up to buy large tvs in the middle of the night last night because stores are now open today as well, and finding the paper four times its normal size due to sale ads for tonight and tomorrow made me pause and realize there is now a frenzy to this day that wasn’t there just a few years ago. Why is it so hard for us to slow down and simply enjoy one another on these special days? Why do we feel then need to be constantly moving, planning and grasping for more when in reality most of us have more than we ever dreamed we would have, much less actually need?
Yesterday afternoon my neighborhood had a vivid reminder to help us focus on what’s really important. The recovering alcoholic adult child across the street relapsed, hard. After beating up her mother she then stabbed herself repeatedly before taking two bottles of pills. Amazingly, she then ran house to house beating on doors looking for help for her bloodied, elderly mother. The family across the street and I responded and were reminded of the fragility of life and health. (Both mother and adult child are going to be fine physically at least.) As we searched for the glasses that were punched off a face and wiped blood tenderly from a cut while that paramedics and police worked to subdue the at-that-moment crazed, there were no words. But that touch and by simply being present that the tears came and courage was found to tell what had happened, the pain of grief thick around everyone involved. When some semblance of quiet had been restored , the adult child having been removed and taken to safety where she can get assistance…if she will accept it, and the other adult children arrived, we tried to slip quietly out. She stopped us with these words, “I am so thankful you responded to our call for help.”
And my heart whispered my own thanksgiving for having answered as well.
But how many times do I ignore them because they’re not extreme situations like that one? How many times do I, who have been given so much, turn away from someone in need because it’s not a convenient time or (worse) because it’s uncomfortable?
On this special day when pausing to remember to be thankful may it be a start of a habit of thankfulness and caring and sharing of all the gifts grace has provided.