From Where I Sit: Still thankful after all these years

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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I am one of those who feel the need to eat certain foods on Thanksgiving Day.  It keeps me in touch with my personal traditions, knowing it has little or nothing to do with the actual meaning of the holiday, much in the same way our upcoming observance of Christmas has acquired unrelated and unnecessary cultural trappings.

On this day before our once-a-year celebration, we remember to say “thanks” to God, to family, to friends and to our country.  Thankfulness can surely be experienced more than once a year.

I’ve been thinking about one aspect of thanksgiving that to me seems wrong – the way people sometimes give thanks for the misfortunes that they have avoided that others still suffer.

You know, “I am thankful I am not homeless” or “I am thankful I am not hungry” or “I am thankful I have my health.”  That’s all well and good.  I am happy for you.  But there are still those who are homeless or hungry or sick. Such people still exist.  They are out there.  One day you could be one of them, or maybe you already are.

It is much more meaningful to me to hear a homeless person or a hungry person find a way to give thanks for something in their life.  It probably isn’t healthy to be shamed into feeling thankful, but I have to resist the urge to do so after considering those who are worse off than I am.

It would be nice if we were still graciously thankful people no matter what the state of our health or size of our bank account.  Contentment is an inwardly settled attitude.

It’s a tricky thing to be truly thankful – to be able to look at who and what is in your life, and to be grateful for that.  This would include the refusal to bemoan what we don’t have, as well as the refusal to compare ourselves to those less fortunate than us and as a result feel lucky we escaped such misfortune.

I heard someone once say that “good things come to us so that they might come through us.”  God blesses us so that we in turn become a blessing to others.  Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8).

“God give me a heart for others.  May my thankfulness to You express itself in helpfulness to others. Otherwise it’s just sanctified selfishness.” 

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