For this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, we had a group of over 40 people in the church fellowship hall. The food was abundant, delicious, and prepared by various families from different traditions and ethnic background. There was food for the vegetarians and the carnivores. When it came to desserts, there were desserts that were soft and hard, sweet and tart, pies, cakes and pastries. Other people decorated the hall and the tables, providing a festive feeling of thanksgiving.
As the pastor of the church, I was invited to say thanks to the Lord for the bountifulness of this year and also to thank God for all the people that so graciously brought their best dishes to be shared with all of us. It dawned on me that in comparison with other people, I did nothing for this celebration. In the wafting of all the delicious smells, I offered a pretty short prayer.
After Thanksgiving, I started to think that we often offer hurried thanks to people that have worked so hard to prepare those things that we enjoy so much. My wife Ginny, with two other ladies from the church, organized this event for the first time. They worked hard inviting people, and then planned the menu, ensuring that each family was bringing something different. My wife worked for about two days preparing the dishes that she had to prepare. I showed up and greatly enjoyed myself and I gave some hurried thanks.
I thought about how hard some parents work to provide a proper education for their children. My own parents worked custodial jobs at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and in other places in L.A. Often they worked the second shift because that paid a little bit more. However, they wanted to send their children to college and they succeeded to send each of their four children to get a B.A. It was not until I had four kids to send to college, especially during the three years when I had two in college, that I understood how hard they worked for us. I did give them thanks, but I think that often, they were hurried thanks.
I thought of some people in the so-called “sandwich generation”. On one hand, they have to take care of their children, and on the other hand, they have to take care of their parents. In addition to working full time, they have to care for children and parents. Many times I have heard expressions such as “I am exhausted,” or “It is such a thankless job.”
Sometimes I think that I deserve better, or am I entitled to other things, when what I should do is to be more grateful and find ways to thank people more. For that reason, I think Paul says, “In all things give thanks for this is God’s will for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).” May the Lord help me to be more thankful and take time when I give my thanks to the people that have worked so hard for what I have received.