Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving – the traditional start of the second phase of the Christmas shopping season; the first phase began after Halloween.

Once upon a time, in my life, Thanksgiving was a time for the family to gather. For a few years I was in the right place at the right time to host the family Thanksgiving. Alas, I was the one whose destiny moved me away from the rest of my family.

This Thanksgiving was more different than most.

My 15 year old son was off on his first solo trip. He’s headed to Baton Rouge, LA to see an LSU game up close and personal. He’s an LSU fan both by genetics and environment. We’ll just leave it at that.

I’ve mentioned my father’s current situation in the past. Physically he’s still challenged; however, when I speak with him on our daily calls, I can still make him laugh. How can we laugh in the face of death? We’ve connected on a level that neither of us ever expected. I’d rather we share it with laughter even if it’s amidst any tears.

But back to Thanksgiving.

As I’ve gotten older, I worry less about the Holidays in terms of their spiritual significance.

I am not in the proverbial, privileged 1%. However, I am blessed that my family does not lack for anything critical. When an unexpected challenge occurs, the answer – like manna in the desert – always appears.

We Catholics are taught to begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross. I told my dad that I rarely use the sign of the cross outside of Sunday Mass; on a daily basis, I never quite finish my prayer. In the morning, I wish God a good day (How stupid [but sincere] is that?) I walk down the hall at work and thank God that I have a job – and a good one at that. Sometimes I just say, “Hi. I’m thinking of you.” Oh, and by the way God, I love you and am happy that you love me.

My Thanksgiving is every day.

Of course, my begging for forgiveness and mercy is also every day.

So today, I give thanks for my family. I give thanks for the blessing of a God who is able to focus on me and every other one of His children so up close and personal. Tomorrow I expect to be thankful all over again.

There is so much to give thanks for.

Good Enough

There’s a saying that the enemy of “Good” is “Better.”

Some things should be done as well as we can. Our relationship with God and family, for example.

Other things only need to be “good enough.” Painting the closet is a perfect example.

It’s both easy to confuse the two, and very difficult to figure out which things really need to be perfect. Does Thanksgiving need to be on par with the Norman Rockwell painting? Does the homemade Halloween costume need to be of Broadway quality?

Jesus said that we should be perfect as the Father is perfect. I used to be confused about this, thinking that it meant I had to be perfect in all things. Now I think it means that we should focus on the things that God focuses on – perfecting love, forgiveness and patience.

Nowhere Man (Part 4)

07_Porsche_911Turbo_12

“I didn’t quite catch your name,” I tried again.

“That’s because I never told you,” came the reply. “Besides, you couldn’t pronounce it if I did. Not even in your head.”

This last comment reminded me that we were communicating without actually talking. We were just thinking things at each other.

“Can you at least tell me what you are and how we’re able to communicate like this,” I asked.

“We can communicate like this because this is the way that I communicate and you’re with me. Actually you have communicated like this yourself, but you haven’t thought about it in a while. You haven’t forgotten, you just haven’t given it any attention lately.”

“And what are you,” I persisted. I sensed a smile in the response.

“You can think of me as a messenger.”

“Are you here to deliver a message?”

“Yes.”

“To me?”

“Yes.”

“Well, what is it?” I demanded.

“Always impatient,” came the reply. “The little boy who was almost apoplectic from Thanksgiving until Christmas morning. The teenager who woke his father well before dawn on his sixteenth birthday so he could finally get his driver’s license. Always impatient.”

“You seem to know a lot about me,” I replied impatiently.

“I told you, I was there.”

“You told me that you were there at my Statistics class.”

“I did. I was. But I’ve been with you all along.”

“As if being semi-disembodied wasn’t creepy enough,” I offered. “This is getting really, really creepy.”

I sensed the translucent ethereal equivalent of a sigh.

“Let’s see if I can put this in terms you’ll understand,” came the reply. “It’s my job to know what you’re doing – to look out for you. That’s why I’ve been permitted to bring a message to you.”

I waited.

“What do you have to show for your life?”

“That’s a question, not a message,” I replied, perhaps with a little bit too much smugness.

“Well?”

“I think I’ve done alright.”

“Don’t forget I was there – every step of the way. What do you really have to show?”

“If you know me as you claim to,” I replied, “then you know I graduated magna cum laud from Columbia. I have an MBA from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Yale.”

“You have a Bachelors and a Masters in business from the University of Akron.”

“With which I’ve done pretty well,” I retorted. “I’m making good money, top salesman at work, drive a Porsche…”

“And that’s what you feel is important? What did you do with the dreams that you had? Where are the ideals you believed in when you were younger? You now believe that money and a fancy car is what’s important?

“You drive a fancy European car with a racing engine so you can average 15 miles per hour during rush hour in stop and go traffic? Your money that sits in some brokerage account because it lost half its value when the economy tanked?”

“Not quite half,” I weakly replied.

“Don’t you think there are other things more important?”

(To be concluded)

Make It a Heartfelt Thanksgiving

I’m a Catholic, and we’re heavy into liturgical prayer – “Say two Our Fathers and three Hail Marys” sort of thing. One might think that back in history the clergy didn’t trust the common folk to come up with prayers on their own. The truth is that many people seem a little unsure as to what we should do or say when we pray.

The Lord’s Prayer appears in the Bible as the answer to the disciples request for Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Liturgical prayer has its advantages, but its main disadvantage is that the more routine it becomes the harder it is to concentrate on its meaning. I know my mind wanders…

“Give us this day our daily bread… Did I remember to pick up salt when I stopped for bread? Oh wait, I never checked to see if we needed milk…”

As such, I tend to try to put my thoughts into a prayer and pray spontaneously. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When I say the grace before meals, I tend to thank God for family, home, the fact that our kids are in a good school and we’re generally safe. It’s a good list, but sometimes it becomes too comfortable and I say it without really thinking about it, much less meaning it. “I don’t see the salt on the table. Did I remember to pick up salt when I stopped for bread? Oh wait, I never checked to see if we needed milk…”

Jesus taught us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything we are, our heart, soul and mind. The second He said is “like it” and calls for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps when He said they are alike he was also telling us that they go together.

Perhaps, this Thanksgiving we can pair up what we are thankful for with some way to put that into action.

If I’m thankful for family, maybe I should call Aunt Edna and give her twenty minutes to ramble on about how much she dislikes this or that.

If I’m thankful for the meal, maybe I should gather up cans of my favorite foods and donate them to the food drive or food bank.

If I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in this country, maybe I should sit politely and listen to the guy at work who enjoys discoursing on his personal interpretation of some particular law or lack thereof.

If I’m thankful for my relationship with God, maybe I should pray for all who seek Him whether through my belief system or not. I suspect that when all is said and done, God is going to grade us on a curve and the “A” for effort will outweigh the “D-” in subject matter expertise.

“Freedom from Want”
Norman Rockwell

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for this family. You know we love one another, but out of gratitude may we accept one another as individuals and celebrate that each of us is unique – created in your image and exactly as you wanted each of us to be.

I thank you for my home. Size and neighborhood don’t matter. It’s a home because it’s one little spot in the universe where this family can come together to love and be loved. Please always be here with us and make this home yours as well.

I thank you for this meal, and every meal we have. We don’t go hungry and are so blessed that we can pick and choose those things that are our favorites and avoid those that are not. May we realize how extraordinary it is to be blessed to this degree.

I thank you for this country in which we live. A country for which young men and women will dedicate their very lives because of the principles on which we are built.

Finally, Father, it was You who breathed life into each and every one of us – a gift that only You can give. May we look to you always as a child looking at a parent, for You to show us the way, correct us when we’re wrong, then forgive us. We’re especially thankful for your unconditional love.

Happy Thanksgiving.