A Happy Thanksgiving is a Healthy Thanksgiving

November 21, 2022

This quote by Robert Lintner sums up Thanksgiving perfectly. “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” John F. Kennedy said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” 

I have a challenge this Thanksgiving holiday season that may be hard on our emotions. With an attitude of gratitude, let's thank our families, co-workers, friends, spouses, employees, and employers, for something special they have done for us.   

Even the famous sprinter, Usain Bolt, found a way to thank his doubters. He wrote: "I'd like to say thanks to all my fans, thanks for the support. And to all my doubters, I'd like to thank you very much because you have pushed me to run faster." Not bad! Dub Nance points out another thing we can all be very thankful for. "There's one thing for which you can be thankful – only you and God have all the facts about yourself." Yes, and Amen!  

The Oxford Dictionary defines thankfulness as “the feeling of being happy or grateful because of something.” 

Here's a story reported in the Los Angeles Times on November 20, 1988, that illustrates our need for thanksgiving and thankfulness more than just one day a year. 

“A screaming woman trapped in a car dangling from a freeway transition road in East Los Angeles was rescued Saturday morning. The nineteen-year-old woman apparently fell asleep behind the wheel at about 12:15 a.m. The car plunged through a guardrail and dangled by its left rear wheel. 

A half dozen passing motorists stopped, grabbed some ropes from one of their vehicles, tied the ropes to the back of the woman's car, and hung on until the fire units arrived. The fire units extended a ladder from below to help stabilize the car while firefighters tied the vehicle to tow trucks with cables and chains. It was quite an ordeal. "Every time we would move the car," said one of the rescuers, "she would yell and scream. She was in terrible pain."

It took almost two and a half hours for the passers-by, police officers, tow truck drivers, and firefighters, about 25 people, to secure the car and put the woman to safety. Throughout the episode, the woman continued talking, repeating a phrase repeatedly to the rescuers. It was kind of funny, the fire captain recalled later. "She kept saying: 'I'll do it myself.'" Fortunately for the young woman, the rescuers didn't listen to her. She survived the crash.”

I don’t know about you, but if that had happened to me, I think I would have profusely thanked all involved in the rescue for taking the time and effort to rescue me from my precarious predicament. Perhaps she was in shock, but once she came out of shock and had her wits back, she might have gone back to thank the police and fire department.

Did you note what the girl kept saying? “I’ll do it myself.” Consider this Thanksgiving thought. Partnerships may feel least comfortable when it is most necessary. That was certainly the case on the first Thanksgiving. Both the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were in the same predicament. They worked together to survive a very rough winter. And they also celebrated the first Thanksgiving together after the crisis.   

Richard Douglas enlightens about the idea of thanksgiving and thankfulness. "The modern American seldom pauses to give thanks for life's simple blessings. One reason is that we are used to having so much. We assume that we will have all the good things in life. Another reason is that it hurts our pride to be grateful. We do not want to admit that God is the Provider of all good things. We are His stewards. Being thankful requires humility and faith in God. When we have these things, we can be grateful."

The lack of thankfulness in our lives has devastating consequences. It affects our attitude negatively when we are closed to the idea of thankfulness. We end up becoming judgmental and prideful. We tend to become selfish and self-sufficient. We end up underachieving, alone in our self-created unthankful world, hanging by one wheel on a bridge saying, “I’ll do it myself.” Brene Brown says, "What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” 

Anyone who is a resident of the entitlement world should change addresses. Taking the time to thank God and others for everything we have is what Thanksgiving is all about. It's giving thanks, not just taking thanks. Thankfulness gives you a different perspective on life, a healthy one that builds up a person, not tears them down. Thankfulness is an attitude of gratitude, elevating both the giver and the receiver in life-lifting ways.

A happy Thanksgiving is a healthy Thanksgiving; a healthy Thanksgiving is a grateful Thanksgiving; a grateful Thanksgiving is a hopeful Thanksgiving.  

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com