Gobble, Gobble Man’s View… Gobble, Gobble God’s View
Can you believe it’s Thanksgiving? Another year is just about behind us. If you’re like most families you have certain traditions that make Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. When I was growing up, we usually went to Gramma’s house. One Aunt always brought green beans in mushroom soup with onion rings on top; another Aunt always brought corn bread stuffing; and my Mom always brought apple sauce cakes and pumpkin pies. Gram put the rest of dinner together. Us kids always ate in the living room and it was a big deal when you got to eat at the adult table. I used to think you could hear the sound of everyone’s laughter and loud talking clear on the other side of town. That was the way my Mom’s side of the family – the Oaky side, celebrated Thanksgiving.
On rare occasions, we would go to my Dad’s side for Thanksgiving. My Dad’s side of the family are Azorean Portuguese. A lot of my relatives did not speak English – not even my Grandmother. Dad’s side of the family also had customs that I did NOT understand: The women did not sit at the table – they stood behind the men at the table and served the men, the kids and any guests. They ate after everyone else finished. The food was way different than I was used to eating at Thanksgiving (I must say, though it was different it was very good!): For example there were peas in a red sauce with one egg boiled in it per person; and dressing made with hamburger, sausage and linguica. But the tradition that was funniest to me was one concerning my Vovo’ – Grandfather. He would sit at the head of the table and carve one piece off the turkey: the tail! No one would dare touch the tail – it was his! During dinner there was little or no talking – not allowed. I can remember eating as fast as I could so I could go outside.
Though these Thanksgiving dinners were very different, they had one thing in common: Though they were family coming together, blessed to have each other; blessed to be healthy; blessed to have every need provided and then some…
THEY DID NOT OFFER UP THANKS!
My Mom’s side of the family were “Jack Mormons” (in other words, Mormon in name only) and my Dad’s side of the family were Roman Catholic, also in name only. (Side note: this was before my Aunt received Christ, bringing Christianity to our family.) So, though both families were gathered together to a celebration of “thanksgiving”, thanksgiving was absent. Were they bad people? Totally ungrateful? No, not necessarily. But were they self-sufficient-thinking they had done it all on their own? Yes, in many ways.
They had worked hard for everything. My Mom’s side of the family lost everything in the great depression; came to California to start all over, always worked hard-picked fruit, did whatever it took; yet, were able to buy their homes, raise their kids, send some to college, and even start some businesses. My Dad’s side of the family made their way through Ellis Island with basically the clothes on their backs; had to learn a new language; a new culture; and eventually ended up in California where they built huge dairies. They, too, had worked very hard. So, why shouldn’t they be proud of their accomplishments? It is for sure nothing was given to them. Or was it?
They needed to understand, WE need to understand that our abilities ALL are gifts from God. God gives us the very breath we breathe; our health; every talent; and the list could go on and on. Scripture is quite clear, James 1:17a: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights… If you were born with a high intellect – it came from God! If you are talented with your hands – it came from God! If you have a gift for making money – it came from God! Good singer: God given! Good artist: God given! Good communicator: God given!
I believe God has a plan for each of our lives. He gives us “gifts”, “talents” – it’s up to us what we do with them! It is our choice what we do with what God gives us, but nonetheless it is God who has given us the ability to do what we do. SO…
- We need to be thankful for who God made us to be. Instead of wishing we could do this that or the other, we need to be thankful for who God made us to be and make the most of it!
- We need to be thankful for the family God put us in. Good, bad, or indifferent – God allowed us to be in the family we were raised in. He had his reasons! He will use EVERYTHING for His glory – even the bad! If we yield it all over to Him, there is no telling what He can do through us!
- We need to be thankful for even the trials! God allows them to work out the “junk” that needs to be worked out of us – if we allow Him to do so!
- We need to be thankful for things that are easy to take for granted: opportunities; people in our lives; health; food; shelter…
May I, may we, be the first to offer up thanks in this season of thanksgiving. And may our “season of thanksgiving” last ‘til we no longer have breath in our bodies!