Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2003 / 1 Kislev, 5764
Hardship? We don't know the meaning
We're soft, you know, at least by ye olde Pilgrim standards. We're
Cool Whip soft. Foam on the top of a latte soft. Upper arm flab soft.
Each year as Thanksgiving rounds the bend, I am reminded that my
thankfulness is several shades lighter than the Pilgrims'. Without constant
calibration, my thanksgiving tends to be on the wimpy side. Too much fat
and not enough lean.
My thankfulness is often based on the creature comforts around me.
Yes, I am thankful for ample food and a house with heat. It doesn't take
much depth to come up with a list like that.
Truthfully, there are times when the list qualifies as cushy. I'm
thankful tennis shoes were on sale last week. I am thankful for the
"Do-Not-Call" telemarketer list, and I am thankful my son got a hair cut.
Somehow, I doubt those type of things were high on the Pilgrims'
list of thanks.
I'm not alone here. Every Thanksgiving, news reporters survey kids
asking what they're thankful for. Inevitably one of them will say, "Play
Station 2, my soccer ball and my dog."
Sure, we give thanks, but there's often a direct correlation
between our thankfulness and our comfort. We do a fine Norman Rockwell when
the kids are healthy, the house sparkles and the stock market jumps. We
bubble with thanks when life is to our liking. When life isn't so good - a
kid pushes the envelope, the job stinks, the house needs a new roof - we
tend to be tight-lipped.
The Pilgrims' heart of thanks was remarkable in that it was not
dependent on circumstances. The Pilgrims were thankful in spite of their
circumstances. Their Thanksgiving feast followed a brutal winter that cut a
wide swath of hunger, deprivation and death.
I let a bout with the flu or a common cold send me into a tail
spin. I wonder how I would respond if, like the Pilgrims, many of my loved
ones were suddenly gone? Would I still believe the goodness of G-d
outweighs every trouble and trial?
In the biting cold of 1777, General George Washington stopped his
worn and weary troops near Valley Forge to give thanks to G-d.
I pat myself on the back for reading Scripture a few times a week
with a cup of hot tea in my hands. I wonder how I'd feel about bowing for
prayer if I was like Washington's men - ill-fed, ill-clothed, beaten down
and nearly freezing to death?
In the midst of the bloodiest war to ever divide this nation,
President Abraham Lincoln paused to issue a proclamation of Thanksgiving.
President Lincoln asked G-d to "heal the wounds of the nation" and to
restore the country to the "full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity,
If the security and liberty of this country were threatened by
enemies in, oh, say some sort of war with terror, would I simply scan the
headlines and watch the news? Or would I earnestly pray for peace and
We could use more Pilgrim fortitude today - unfaltering hearts
that beat with the pulse of praise. We could use an infusion of Pilgrim
spirit focused on the trustworthiness of the Creator. We could use an
attitude of thanks that sees beyond tennis shoes and Play Stations to the
blessings of faith, hope and love, and the gift of family and friends.
My prayer this Thanksgiving season is that I would not be soft,
but that I would gain the solid substance of a Pilgrim's heart.
I'll still eat Cool Whip. I just don't want to be Cool Whip.
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© 2001, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
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