Halloween is not over and here we are thinking about Christmas. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched in-between and almost forgotten. Ironically, the first two holidays are what I call “Give me holidays.” We ask for things and then wait expectantly to receive. The “glossed over” holiday in the middle is for “giving thanks.” But what do we do? We think about getting off work and indulging some gluttonous feasting.
Giving thanks is inborn in our DNA. An atheist friend of mine is always pointing upward when she receives something good, and then pulling her hand back in embarrassment. She thanks “whoever” or “whatever,” afraid that she might get caught in actual gratitude toward God.
A few years ago she sold a painting. She lamented that she had only received $150 for it, and then proceeded to tell me that it went right into a new disposal for her kitchen sink because hers had quit.
“Don’t you see what a blessing that is?” I asked her. “You didn’t have the money to replace the disposal, and then you sold a painting for the exact amount you needed? Do you see the irony in that?” She simply charged it up to coincidence.
How hard it is to give thanks. We shrug it off with feelings of embarrassment, as if that makes us dependent on someone else or even God. And we’re far too smart for that! Besides, we had it coming.
We ignore our waiters at a restaurant watching them come and go as if they are beneath us, and instead reward them with a tip afterward if they satisfy us. We have become a nation of ingrates. Our mother’s called it being courteous. Our teacher’s called it being polite. In fact, when we were young we threw please and thank you around by the dozen to get a smile or a pat on the back.
Now people bump into each other on crowded streets and buses, and simply grunt to show that they’ve been inconvenienced. Pushing and shoving has become the order of the day, even on crowded highways. Automobiles jostle for position weaving in and out like a game of bumper cars.
When was the last time you allowed someone to pull in front of you? And how about that driver waiting on a side street; did you let him or her pull forward into traffic?
Since when did we all become so selfish, so in a hurry? Was it at the beginning of the computer age when life itself accelerated? First we became inwardly focused, and now we’re more technology focused. Eye contact is not only scarce, it has become scary; a thing to be avoided because it encourages intimacy and opens the door to conversation.
When was the last time your teenager looked you in the eyes with fondness and emotion? How often do you allow yourself a good soak in the tub to soothe those tightened muscles? What happened to those lost moments when you dreamt about possibilities instead of obstacles?
I fear that in spite of all our technology, we still feel like we must “Go, go, go” every minute, and yet we never catch up. We are in an endless pursuit of accomplishment. If we’re not aspiring or growing, we are getting left behind. Our “failure” complex has a grip on our minds that we can’t shake off. We’re out of breath and sweating even when we’re standing still.
As we ease into the rush of holiday preparation, the shopping and the anxiety let us all remember “the reason for the season.” Take the time to appreciate and recognize what is happening around you. Be grateful for those who try to make your life easier. Do your part to keep you and yours safe and free from anger and accidents. And as Tiny Tim said in Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” “God Bless us, everyone!”