Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Come and Get it or Come and Give It

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Why? No gifts. Little shopping obligations. No holiday cards. No one is offended by how much was spent on a present or what kind of present. Not many Thanksgiving songs constantly playing in the malls. It's an easy holiday.

But I am a guy. So I don't want to discount all the hard work put in by the women, the Moms, the wives, sisters and girlfriends when it comes to preparing the meal. Once in awhile I've purchased the turkey, cleaned out the gizzards and entrails. I've stuffed turkeys and carved them. So I am not a total stranger to the incredible amount of work women do on what is essentially a guy's day off to watch football and wait for the dinner call, "Come and Get It!"

But there's always an emptiness at the Thanksgiving table. yes, there are plenty of compliments about the food, the mashed potatoes, the gravy, the sweet potatoes pie, the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie with whipped cream adorning it.

Yet some people manage to complain on Thanksgiving. The turkey's too dry or not cooked enough. The turkey's never as good as it was last year. Someone is bound to throw out, "Did you make this pumpkin pie or buy it at Marie Calendar's?"

Moist turkey or dry . . . something is missing. It's thankfulness.

Does it ultimately matter where the pie comes from or if the stuffing has enough walnuts or too many? When we complain about food, Thanksgiving suddenly takes on the materialistic vibe of Christmas where we find a myriad of things to gripe about. Yes . . . you're right. I am complaining right now. I know it. But then I'd have nothing to write about.

Let me share with you some great reasons to start practicing true thankfulness during this Thanksgiving celebration.

Be thankful for what you have but also be thankful that what you have is more than you'll ever need. For instance, a typical Starbucks' latte is $3.50. 5 cups would be $17.50. That's what I usually spend each week. But $17.50 can also be used to help prevent malaria for an entire family in the Congo.

Be thankful for when you go out for dinner especially with another person. The two of you will rack of a tab of at least $35.00. For $35.00 you could pay for tuition and food for one child in Uganda for an entire month.

Be thankful when you are able to gas up you SUV for $200 a month. That's enough to pay for the education of 100 students in Ethiopia.

Be thankful when you are able to enjoy a plethora of entertainment: $20.00 for a movie; $50 for cable TV pumped into your house; $130 to go to a theme park and $200 to attend a music concert. For $400 four water purifiers can be bought to pump clean water to a village in Thailand.

Be thankful for your wardrobe. Three pairs of pants costs $150; Three shirts would set you back $90.00; three pair of jeans would ring up at $200 and one jacket should cash out at $150. So for a new wardrobe, you are putting $590 on your department store credit card. You might be so blessed you can pay cash. But for $590 you can feed four children in Uganda for life.

Be thankful for all the wealth we have in America. $60,000 in the U.S. buys one month for food for 250 Americans. In the Sudan, $60,000 buys a month worth of food for 4700 Sudanese. I assume that includes the Cool Whip on their pumpkin pie.

Be thankful for the access we have to a cornucopia of clothing stores. $175,000 in the U.S. will buys a year's worth of clothing for 200 children. In Rwanda $175,000 will clothe 19,500 children for a year or more.

A dry or moist turkey seems ludicrous at this juncture. Let's be truly thankful this year. We are rich and we have all we will ever need. If you can't truly say that, I suggest you use your Christmas money and take a trip to the Sudan and get a reality check.

Do want something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Listen to the Psalmist:
The LORD is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.
All of your works will thank you, LORD,
and your faithful followers will bless you. (Psalm 145:9-10).

In the midst of the wars, HIV/AIDs, poverty and suffering, be at least thankful you for what you do have. But take it one step further. Start supporting organizations and ministries that reach out to the people in Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand and the Sudan. This year, cut down on the Starbucks, the new wardrobe, your hunger for more and more entertainment, and all the rest. The money you save might save some lives. Then you'll learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

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