Thinking about Thanksgiving Day

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” --W. T. Purkiser

This quote from a 20th-century Church of the Nazarene minister pretty well sums up my thoughts on Thanksgiving Day. It's easy to enumerate our blessings, especially if we live in a rich country, have a comfortable life, are surrounded by people who love us, enjoy our work and are in decent health.

But simply acknowledging our blessings is not very praiseworthy. In fact, it can be a bit selfish and callous to trumpet our blessings around those whose lives are less pleasant. We seem to be bragging and implying, on some level, that our blessings have come to us because we are, ourselves, so special.

It's making use of our blessings that shows we appreciate them and value them. If I just give thanks for my abilities, talents, possessions, skills and resources, all I've done is be honest about my gifts. But if I do something with them, particularly if I invest them in other people, I really understand their value. I am taking them from stasis to action, using them to create the future.

Blessings, in my mind, are more than just pleasant items I can gather in a basket and admire. They are often disguised as challenges, problems and even catastrophes.Because I see blessings as something to be used (not merely looked at), I see them everywhere--in every situation where there is a need, there is a blessing nearby to meet the need, to some degree. It;s for me, having recognized that need, to locate that blessing and use it accordingly.

Male Northern American turkey, photo by Lupin
Thanksgiving Day is not just a time to eat, to be with friends and family, and to express thanks for what's good in life. It's a day to assess our blessings, be they welcome pleasures or on-going challenges that give us the chance to contribute our best. So today I am thankful for everything in my life, and am promising to look for better ways to use my life in service to the people around me. That's my Thanksgiving thought for the day!


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