You know, it’s interesting that the older I get, the more I appreciate the holiday of Thanksgiving. As a child it used to be my least favorite holiday. I mean, c’mon! We had to eat turkey and traditional side dishes, when I’d much rather fill my tummy with pizza, hamburgers and fries. There weren’t any fun, lively songs, no cute characters bringing me gifts or candy. Except for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Program, there weren’t even holiday cartoons to look forward to. I’m glad to say I’ve grown up a lot since then and now see the things I took for granted as a kid such as gathering with loved ons and reflecting on the simple gifts and freedom I have as priceless treasures to be cherished, indeed.

As a Christian, I’m thankful to God to earn a living in a job that invests in the lives of children. I’m thankful that my school had a Thanksgiving Program that allowed us to sing about being grateful. I’m thankful to have a Christian principal and that we begin each day with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Texas Pledge and a moment of silence. I’m thankful to have my own home, transportation, the freedom to pursue my own interests. I’m thankful for family and friends who open up there homes to me, put up with my suddenly bursting out into to song at random moments and laugh at my unique, off-the-wall sense of humor. (Well, at least fifty percent of the time anyway…). And of course, I’m most grateful for my relationship with God, experiencing His presence and peace, and a future with great promises.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. If you are a U.S. citizen of the still greatest nation in the world, you still have blessings to count whether or not you acknowledge the existence of the One who has bestowed them upon you.  There are a few obvious ones during this time that very often get overlooked.   Most Americans can be thankful to live in a country that still takes a day to close schools and most businesses to gather with loved ones for the sole purpose of showing gratitude to our great Provider (I’m talking about God, not any elected officials!). You can be thankful to prepare and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, be it turkey and dressing, tamales and jalapenos or brisket, dirty rice and collared greens (whatever your meal preferences). We don’t have to take rations of food determined by the government or go without any food at all. Even people that are homeless and jobless can be grateful to have the choice to stay in a shelter funded by charities and faith based organizations. They are given food and clothing until they are able to get through the hard times and get back on their feet.  There are those that opt out and choose the streets instead, but they still can be thankful to have that choice available to them.

Even if you are one who rolls with the latest trends in society, fashions and commericialized versions of “Turkey Day”, you can be thankful as you eat your fill, watch football (Go Texans!), take a big nap to later stand in line for Black Friday deals. It means you have food to eat, a couch or bed to crash on, and time to do as you wish, money to spend on your choice in electronics, appliances, games, toys and any other thing your heart desires being sold in stores.

There are some who may not feel they have much to be thankful for as they may find themselves alone. I’ve spent a few Thanksgivings holidays by myself so I can relate. You can still be thankful to relax at home, accomplish some things you haven’t had the time to do lately, look into volunteering at community Thanksgiving dinners, and think about things you can change so that you in the future you won’t find yourself alone if you don’t want to be. One year, I decided to go to a cafeteria style restaurant, Lubys, located here in Houston, for a traditional turkey dinner. While standing in line watching families interact, a lady in front of me turned around and began talking to me. It turned out her family was working so she invited me to eat with her, and another lady she met in front of her who was also alone that day. We had a nice meal and conversation and I was touched to not have to sit and eat alone.

There is another group of people who’s gratefulness may be overshadowed by the loss of a loved one. Nothing will make you miss them more than going through holidays without them. You will cry and feel  great sorrow, but if you allow God into your grief, He will carry you through and give you peace, strength and comfort. When you’re able to look past the ache of their absence, you can be thankful you had those people in your life and the lessons you learned as a result of your relationship with them. You can cherish their memories and let it bring a smile to your heart. Three years ago on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my mom that my dad took a turn for the worse and was asking for me. I flew in that night and got to spend his last days on earth with him. I was also given one of my greatest gifts that weekend and that was the opportunity to lead my dad into receiving Christ into his heart the night before he died. I know that I know that I know that I will see him again in Heaven.

I’m so thankful to have God’s promise of Heaven. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” I’m grateful that every hardship and trial I’ve ever endured will some day pay off in the everlasting joy and peace that is promised by God, who is faithful and true.  There is a glorious age to come to those who choose to believe and receive.   If you haven’t made this choice, I hope you will today!  It’s the best!

Be blessed! Happy Thanksgiving!

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