What is Thanksgiving All About?
Anyone who has ever had a conversation with me knows that it usually turns to something deep or significant. Sometimes I feel that it is a curse that my passion for faith, family, economics, books and other things always bubbles to the surf…ace. I just do not feel that talking about football, the latest reality show or gossip is a justification of my time. Do not misunderstand me…I like a good football game on occasion and a good movie. The reason I am writing you this email is for two reasons. One is a burden on my heart… a confession of sorts. The second is a dear friend of mine (deep in the bayous of LA) who deep in conversation (the kind mentioned above in the first sentence) encouraged me to write you my heartfelt thoughts.
What is Thanksgiving all about?
For a lot of people, Thanksgiving has become a day devoted to eating a whole lot of turkey, watching the parade and maybe a little football before falling asleep on the couch. You then spend the next few days snacking on leftover turkey and stuffing while thinking about how many pounds you gained. I know this because, for many years, I was the prototypical gluttonous one who basically turned into Homer Simpson each Thanksgiving day. Then after the weekend fall back into the fast forward motion of the season. Get through work, get the shopping done, and get ready for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to disconnect from the world and stuff my face while in a state of ignorant bliss. You and I both know, however, that it’s time to make Thanksgiving about something a little more meaningful than endless mounds of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and Black Friday madness.
You see, I am always going full speed. My family and close friends constantly accuse me of “burning the candle at both ends”. I enjoy seeking to grow, to improve. Competitiveness is my nature; My motto: “Second place is first Last.” I try to be an elevator and a blessing to the people I am around, at least that is my goal. My “Why” or motivation is to provide for my family. Though my motivation may be good I found myself lost. Lost…..in frustration and discontent. I must confess the last few months my attitude has become unthankful.
In my quiet time lately I have been feeling convicted. So I decided to Break the Cycle.
This week I made the decision to take my family on a humble adventure and teach myself a valued lesson. My wife and I took our children to the local food bank/homeless shelter. We signed up to help give and put together Thanksgiving Dinners for the needy. For me, it was a humbling yet heart breaking experience. I had no idea what I was about to experience.
For a couple of hours we stuffed bags full of stuffing, canned goods, breads and tasty cheeses until they were bursting at the seams. I helped mothers, fathers and children through the food line, helped them pick out their Turkeys and then carried the food to their cars, or sometimes even bicycles. I was able to talk with them and encourage them. Some were hard a calloused, embarrassed but desperate for help. Some told me their unknown heart wrenching stories. At one point I came back from helping a family take their food to their car. As I rounded the corner I saw the picture below (the once small line now stretched down the street for two blocks). I took this picture as a reminder of the blessings I have. The burden in my heart was overwhelming. I had to step around the back and collect myself before going back inside. The word had spread that food was available. The part of town we were in was overrun by poverty, drugs and filth. But a good deed is a light that shines in a dark place.
You’ve probably never heard me talk about the trilogy of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Instead of looking at these holidays as three separate events, I think we should look at them as a process – one that gives us the opportunity to give thanks, wipe the slate clean, and renew ourselves ahead of the new year.
Serving with my family taught us so much. Serving others is the best way to give thanks and learn humility. I learned more than anyone in my family I believe. I learned that I am blessed beyond measure. That I take many things for granted. I learned that there are many who are in need of the basics, food, shelter and most importantly love. I learned that I can be a blessing. I learned that little things make a difference. So what is Thanksgiving all about? I believe it is not just a holiday but an attitude. It is the opportunity to humble ourselves and give thanks. So this day I am taking the time to write this message and share a few things that I am thankful for….
I am thankful for my beautiful wife and children.
I am thankful for my Family: Pops, Momma, Bro and Sis
A great career.
A roof over my head.
A fridge full of food.
I am Thankful for each of YOU… my friends.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone. God Bless. Thank you again