Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving. The one day of the year when we gather to give thanks eat turkey and watch football.

Well, hopefully we do focus on the "Thanksgiving" part of "Thanksgiving", instead of just making it "Turkey Day". Because, really, most of us are probably much less thankful than we should be the other 364.24 days of the year. It would be reasonable, in fact, for us to spend most of our time gazing around in a state of amazement at the miracles that surround us every day. For instance, imagine that you could transport someone forward in time from, say, the middle ages, and give them a tour of your home and city. Every little thing would be impossibly wonderful to them: frozen food. Light switches. Paved roads. Carpet. And that's all only in the relatively minor category of "material goods".

This thankfulness issue was driven home for me, again, a week ago, when Nick Vujicic spoke at church. You might have noticed that Nick doesn't have any arms. Or legs. While he spoke, I noticed a woman holding a rather cute baby girl. At first glance, it looked like the baby had managed to fit her entire hand into her mouth, chewing on it as babies often do. How fitting, I thought; it looks like she doesn't have a hand. At that moment she pulled her arm away from her mouth, and I realized with a start that, no, she does not have a hand. She was sucking on her wrist because she didn't have a thumb. Her other arm appeared to have half a hand, with two fingers, but again no thumb. The baby didn't seem to care, or realize that anything was wrong--yet. And there I was, with not one, but two, perfectly good and incredibly useful hands. My hands must be worth millions, or even billions, because there is no sum of money you could offer me that would convince me to part with them and do without. Yet, before that moment, I had not been at all thankful that I had hands.

My freshman year of college, I did sit down and make a list of things I should thank the Lord for. The list quickly grew into the hundreds. I revisited it a year later, but had mostly forgotten about it since then. So, today I dug it up, deleted some things that don't necessarily apply any more, and started updating it. It is now up to about a thousand items. That might be a good test to give yourself: list 100 things you have to be thankful for. No matter what your current circumstances might be--in jail, missing limbs, whatever--if you can't rattle off 100 within, say, 15 or 20 minutes, you probably have entitlement issues, or need to get some perspective. You did not earn your hands, and you did not create your own life. EVERYTHING is a gift.

For grins, below are some excerpts from my list.

Things to Be Thankful For

1. Life
2. Love
3. Forgiveness
4. What Jesus did
5. The Bible
6. My Bible
7. Being able to read
8. Being able to see
9. Hearing
10. The sense of touch
11. Taste
12. Smell
13. Food
14. Food cooked by grandmas (that’s different, you know)
15. Having all the food we could ever want, and not having to go hungry
16. Salt
17. Pepper
18. Sugar
19. Water
20. Air
21. Blue skies
22. The sun
23. Warmth
24. Cold
25. Clouds
26. Rain
27. Wind (sometimes)
28. The Earth
29. Gravity
30. Moonlight
31. Bare feet
32. Soft grass
33. Ladybugs
34. Chocolate
35. Milk
36. Ice cream
37. Words
38. Deep conversations
39. Friendly people
40. Music
56. Spellcheckers
57. Grammar checkers
58. Checkers
59. Chess
60. Playing Cards
61. Spades
62. Hearts
63. Ten-point pitch
64. Paperclips
107. Books
108. Hard drives
109. Wire
110. Duct tape
111. Duct tape with a brand name of “Duck Tape” so I’m never wrong when I pronounce it that way
112. Ducks
113. Geese
114. The ducks and geese at Theta Pond (but not so much that one swan that tries to attack me)
115. Theta Pond
116. Never getting thrown into Theta Pond
117. Lakes
183. Eye doctors
184. Contacts
185. Telescopes
186. Binoculars
187. Microscopes
188. Lava lamps
189. Fireplaces
190. Fire
191. Marshmallows
192. S’mores
193. Coat-hanger roasters
194. Coats
195. Clothes
196. Lists
218. The USA
219. July 4th
220. Fireworks
221. Picnics
222. Turtle races
223. Quarters
224. Noisemakers
225. Parties
226. Birthdays
227. Birthday candles
228. Trick birthday candles
229. Surprise parties
230. Leann’s traditional JELL-O
231. JELL-O
232. Pudding
233. Nilla wafers
234. Birthday cake
235. Family gatherings
236. Balderdash
255. Post-it notes
256. Butterflies
257. Bluebirds
258. Eagles
259. Hawks
260. Owls
261. Parrots
262. Swans (except for that one that likes to attack me)
263. Fried chicken
264. Scissor-tailed flycatchers
265. Big Bird
266. Mockingbirds
267. Newspapers
268. Mentholatum
299. Waterfalls
300. Bullfrog melodies on summer nights
301. Fireflies
302. Toads
303. Any animal that eats bugs
304. Rain during sunshine
305. Rainbows
306. Thunderstorms on the horizon
307. Art
308. M. C. Escher
309. Spring
310. Water fights
311. Potluck dinners
312. The skin shells that locusts (cicadas) leave behind
313. Colors
314. Color-guard laundry detergent
(Numbers 320-327, as well as 481-488 and 496-887, are all names of individual friends or family members, which for privacy's sake I won't include here)
328. Question marks
329. Exclamation points
330. Commas
331. Parentheses
332. Ampersands & such
341. Cottonwood-seed snowstorms
342. Sunsets
343. Sunrises
372. Night
373. Robert Frost
374. Poetry that rhymes
375. Cowboy poetry
376. Bluegrass (the music)
377. Tall grass (the grass)
378. Arms
379. Legs
380. Fingers
381. Toes
382. Joints of any kind
383. Yearbooks
384. Yearbook signings
385. Horses
445. Sand Plum jelly
452. The word "varmint"
453. Tents
454. Camping
888. The Porch
889. Watermark
890. My kayak
891. Porch swings
892. Blogs
893. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
925. Scented candles
926. Blue and Gold sausage
927. Red dirt
928. Red dirt music
929. Lighters
930. Light sabers
931. Pocketknives
932. Watermelons
933. Giant pumpkins
934. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special
935. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special soundtrack
936. Roger Ebert
937. Radiolab
938. Sermon podcasts
939. Snow
963. Hands

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