Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Believe In Yesterday

To my best recollection, I was a kid growing up in New Mexico when I first heard (I think it was) a TV weatherman refer to Thanksgiving as "Turkey Day." At the time, about 45 years ago, the term was a cute novelty. Now, to many people, it has become the de facto title of the 4th Thursday in November.

I find that a matter of great concern. Like many of you, I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. The day included great -- and abundant -- food, along with football, recreation and rest. One thing was clear, however. This was a day to give thanks for the bounty and the freedoms we enjoy in this Land called the United States of America. I'm not sure exactly when we started it, but each year our gathering included individual expressions of gratitude by each person present before we sat down to eat.

Anecdotal evidence would indicate to me that, for many people in this country, tomorrow is far more about sleeping in, gorging with rich food, watching the traditional ball games and generally partying. What will be absent is any expression of thanks to anyone. One reason I'm inclined to think that we have developed an attitude of ingratitude is the way people tend to treat each other.

In my city, it's not the trees that change colors in the fall months. It's the license plates. While "snowbirds" flock to Yuma for the winter and bring millions into the local economy, many of them are arrogant, rude and downright mean to the service help in restaurants and stores. Having watched the meekness of the older generation for much of my life, I'm still shocked at the "you owe me" attitude a number of our current winter visitors bring with them.

"Road Rage" is a second indicator. Those two words have come to strike terror into the hearts of many drivers. A lesser form of this selfishness exists, though, at a much more pervasive level. It seems that many of us (notice that I include me here) get behind the wheel with a sense of entitlement that we -- AND NOBODY ELSE -- deserve to be at the front of every line of cars at every traffic signal. "Ain't never gonna break my stride; Nobody's gonna slow me down..." I'm actually working on this one. I find myself at times disgusted with my own attitude when I'm driving.

Here's one that broke my heart. I know a guy who manages at a chain restaurant in a nice area of Southern California. He said that the worst shift to staff every week is the one serving the crowd who just got out of church. My friend -- a Christian who has been in full-time ministry -- said that people come out of church with their "Jesus Rocks" tee shirts on and yet they are the most self-centered, rude and stingy crowd his team serves all week. He finds himself embarrassed to be named in the same "family."

It seems that we are a spoiled, arrogant, selfish nation of people who have forgotten to be grateful for the privileges we enjoy. Soooo, eat your turkey, converse with your family, take your nap, even prepare for "Black Friday." But, please, pause to be thankful.

That's what I want to do. In fact, let's start today. As we work our way through the mad rush of people who, like us, are preparing for the holiday, take a moment to be kind. And say "thank you" to those who are doing their jobs and trying to serve us. Many people may find our attitude today is more gratifying than feast they will eat tomorrow.

In the morning, I'll share with you a bit of my gratitude list. I'm sure that you'll be thinking about yours.


Sandra said...

Amen, Sam. A new "thankful" I have is to have gotten acquainted with you and your family.

May tomorrow and all your tomorrows be blessed.

C. Beth said...

Perhaps if, as a nation, we became more gracious, we would also be viewed in a more positive light by the rest of the world?

Sam said...

Thanks, Sandra, and ditto. Although our communication has been with you, we love your stories about those you love. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank YOU for giving me such encouragement!

Beth, I think you are exactly right. I believe that selfishness and ungratefulness are two sides of the same coin. If my focus is up myself, I will always think the rest of the world is supposed to focus on me, too! When they don't, it's easy to be critical.

Dina said...

We have so much in this country that it is easy to take even the simplest things for granted - clean drinking water, safe roads to travel, access to every kind of food we can imagine - the list goes on and on. Even though we may face struggles, they often don't compare with those of our brothers and sisters in third world countries. I've gotten back into the habit of making a conscious effort to list 3-4 things I'm thankful for everyday. It's my way of trying to keep my attitude in a place of gratitude as much as possible. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sam said...

Thanks, Dina. You know, I think you are hitting on one of the ways to become more grateful. Take the time to remember what we have. I travel a couple of times a year into a third world country and each time I am reminded that we have so much. May you and yours have a great Thanksgiving.