By REY FLORES
Thanksgiving Day is upon us once more, with the idyllic visions of family get-togethers, golden-brown turkeys on our tables, and meaningless college football games on our giant TV screens.
“Happy Thanksgiving” or the silly “Happy Turkey Day” greetings fill the air, while Charlie Brown and his pilgrims quickly make way for the familiar instrumental sounds of Vince Guaraldi’s Christmastime Is Here.
While I myself couldn’t care any less about college football, I do wax nostalgic about the other trappings of this holiday, particularly the goodies on the table. However, what I hate now is how the retailers have scrapped Black Friday altogether and now start their obnoxious “First Day of Xmas Shopping” on Thanksgiving Day.
As a kid, I remember the streets in Chicago being almost deserted on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Aside from the police, firemen, or the few buses running, there were no other businesses open. If you forgot to buy a grocery item for the Thanksgiving table the day before, you would have to wait until the next year to include said item on your menu.
That wasn’t so long ago. Or maybe it is.
Despite some hardships and bitter memories we may have, there seems to be a bit of nostalgia in all of us when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, Advent, and Christmas.
Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for so many things we take for granted, but what that means is that we must take the necessary steps to be grateful no matter what.
Just recently, I read on Facebook about a home-schooling family whose ten-year-old child died suddenly. This child was the oldest of the siblings, and because they are home-schooled, it will make the family’s recovery that much more difficult.
Many of our own home-schooling families can relate to their pain simply because we know just how much more time we spend with our children, compared to if we sent them away to school every day.
Pray for this family and drop to your knees in gratitude to our Lord for your own children. Those children are such a huge blessing for which we do not express enough gratitude. Imagine the empty hole a child leaves when he dies so suddenly and the rest of their family must carry on.
That goes for any family member, be it a parent, spouse, sibling, relative, or child.
It shouldn’t take a major life-changing loss of a loved one to snap us out of our ingratitude.
The next time you take a drink of clean water from your tap or grab a snack, remember that many people are going without as we speak. Just imagine how hard it must be to get either of these luxuries in the storm-ravaged Philippines.
When I worked for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and also for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless back in my “community organizer” days, I saw entire families needing simple necessities like coats, gloves, and boots for the winter.
While I certainly do not advocate for public welfare enablement or multi-generational food-stamp dependency for obese and lazy people who don’t want to work, I can assure you that there are many people in need out here in the wilderness. There are many people who do not abuse the system and do depend on the few legitimate anti-poverty programs out there.
On this Thanksgiving, I would like to share some ideas that help me be more grateful for the blessings God has given me.
Of course I am grateful for my loved ones, but let’s be grateful here for things about all of us.
One must examine one’s conscience at least a thousand times a day. If we aren’t doing this, then we are probably sinning in one way or another, at least a thousand times a day. I am grateful for the conscience I still have left in me.
If I could only have the gift of Confession at least one time a day, I’d sin no more…or so I would like to think. I am grateful for our priests in the confessionals.
Remain vigilant of the wickedness and snares of the Devil. When we catch ourselves before indulging in sin, right there, that is the one moment we must triumph over sin. The next battle awaits us the millisecond thereafter. I am grateful for the many chances God has given me not to sin and for forgiveness when I have.
To be Catholic is to work. To be Catholic is to not be lazy. To be Catholic is to give of self. To be Catholic is to die to oneself. To be Catholic is to fight. Thank you, Lord, for making me a Catholic.
I am grateful for all of our wonderful Wanderer readers and I hope that you all enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving Day being grateful for every blessing you have in your lives.
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(Rey Flores can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)