Happy Giving Thanks Day

By Steve Brawner
© 2014 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

I let certain things get to me more than they should, such as the misuse of the apostrophe to pluralize a word on hand-lettered signs. (Just add an “s” to most words, people.) Another is calling the holiday we celebrate this time of year “Turkey Day.”

I know it’s just a way of taking the stuffing out of a holiday that could use a little more fun. Cooking a big meal is hard work. Family gatherings can be stressful. And the way the word is constructed, “Thanksgiving,” is not really how we talk. We don’t go cardriving for foodbuying for mealpreparing for suppereating.

Still, “Turkey Day” sounds like we’re celebrating a big meal with a big bird, not our many real blessings. We eat turkey all the time. In fact, judging by our waistlines, we feast all the time. It feels like we’re celebrating excess, not plenteousness – like we’re celebrating only the gift, not The Giver.

Maybe we should call it “Giving Thanks Day.” Would that remind us what the day should be about?

I try not to write much about my personal life in this column. If you would like, you can email me, and I’ll respond, and we can get to know each other.

Briefly, for my immediate family that lives beneath our house’s protective roof and sturdy walls, it’s been a good year. My wife and daughters grow more beautiful inside and out every day. We are healthy and can pay our bills.

However, for some who are near and dear, it’s been a very challenging year. There have been times we all have had to remind ourselves to be thankful.

Our society should do a better job of that as well. America is a prosperous and free country. Its biggest internal problems – the ones that make us fight each other most bitterly – center around defining our freedoms and managing what most would consider to be abundance. And yet it seems that much of our public and private discourse is negative. I don’t remember us ever being so cranky.

We can look at this past year as one when we were subjected to many thousands of political ads, or we can be thankful that our prospective lawmakers were compelled to advertise to us. There are no campaign ads in North Korea. And whether or not we happen to approve of the choices voters made in November, the important thing is that they had the chance to choose.

Many years ago, my wife was a sad little girl in a dark place in life. On yet another lonely school bus ride, she prayed looking for answers and heard a voice say, “Thank Me.” She did, and kept doing it. It changed her life.

We all should follow the lead of that little girl. Let’s not allow this holiday to be hijacked by its own traditions. It’s not about turkey, or even getting everybody together. It’s one day a year when we should stop striving for whatever we’re striving for, be grateful for what we have, and then prepare to share our blessings during the Christmas season ahead.

When someone emails me about a column, I try to start each response with, “Thanks for reading and for writing,” even if the writing’s purpose is to tell me I’m an idiot. Most of us want to be heard and to connect. This column lets me do both.

So if you read this column, thank you. If you’ve ever written me for whatever reason, thank you. If you are an editor or publisher who finds a place for my column in your publication, thank you. I hope this holiday is a joyous time for all of you and all of yours. Happy Giving Thanks Day, and enjoy your turkey.

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