Be Thankful For You

By Tom Dardick

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday has been about family, food, and football. I’ve always looked forward to the day because some of my favorite memories were the sumptuous meals and just being together. I wasn’t really aware that I was missing something.

I knew the obvious – that Thanksgiving was about giving thanks. My dad would always say a prayer before the meal and I had a general sense that I was fortunate to have a loving family, plenty to eat, and a warm hearth. But I also didn’t fully appreciate the reality that Thanksgiving Day is more than being thankful for the obvious – more than a simple tradition.

It was easy to miss the deeper truth about Thanksgiving. Our culture is focused upon the commercial – the Macy’s Day parade, the NFL and NBA, Honey Baked hams and pardoning turkeys, and now Black Friday and the shopping season. Against this backdrop, thinking of Thanksgiving as an experience is understandable and typical.

What seems prevalent around the holiday are plans – meal plans, travel plans, lodging plans, etc. Especially when I was young, my Mom did all the heavy lifting – she made every bit of food consumed that day. I didn’t really think about how her experience of Thanksgiving Day contrasted with mine or my father’s, or my three brothers’. As we grew up and the family expanded, she got help – mostly from our wives.

For my children and my nieces and nephews, not much is different from when I was their age. The thing I would like to change, the missing piece that I suspect would make Thanksgiving more meaningful, is to help them understand their personal gifts.

I want them to know that they best serve God by using their talents and energy in service to others. On Thanksgiving in particular it is fitting to take a personal inventory – the things that we’re enthusiastic about and good at – and then build gratitude for those gifts.

When we appreciate things, be they material or not, we show higher respect. We take care of those gifts. In the case of the material, we wash the car we love, we clean the house we treasure, we take satisfaction in the appearance of our property or our person. In the case of the immaterial, we use and develop our talents.

Talent is an evocative word. Its origin is Biblical. Maybe you remember the Parable of the Talents (also known as the Parable of the Loaned Money, Matthew 25:14-30.) The lesson Jesus taught us was: use what you are given. This leads us to the highest life.

So this Thanksgiving day, let’s look at our personal gifts. Let’s take some time to find ways to strengthen them and place them in more service. This might be that we better serve those whom we are already involved with or it might mean that we actively find others who benefit from our talents.