“Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh.”  And so goes the familiar song.  But most of us have different experiences at Thanksgiving than that.  Most of us don’t go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house.  If we go to grandma’s house, it is on the freeway with a car full of impatient kids. 

Perhaps our Thanksgivings are more like that of the actress Helen Hayes, who when she cooked her first turkey for Thanksgiving, called her husband and son together and said:

“Now I know this is the first turkey I have ever cooked.  If I burn it, I don’t want anybody to say anything. We’ll just get up from the table, put on our hats and coats and go down to the restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner.” 

She went into the kitchen to get the turkey and when she returned, her husband and son already had on their hats and coats. 

In spite of those turkey mishaps, we can still find reasons for the giving of thanks. I came across a list of reasons to give thanks if you burn the turkey.  There are ten of them.  Here you go:

10.  Salmonella won’t be a concern.
9.  No one will overeat.
8.  Everyone will think it is Cajuned blackened.
7.  Uninvited guests will think twice next year.
6.  Your cheese-broccoli-lima bean casserole will gain new appreciation.
5.  Pets won’t pester you for scraps.
4.  The smoke alarm was due for a test.
3.  Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.
2.  After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.
1.  You won’t have to face three weeks of turkey sandwiches.

Regardless of whether it is rushing down the crowded freeway to get to grandma’s house or whether we burn the turkey and have dinner at the local restaurant, we can find reasons to give thanks.

But if you want to complain…well, there’s plenty. If you can’t find something to complain about, then you’re not trying.

Here’s my list:

People who leave voice messages instead of a text.
People who take both armrests drive me crazy.
People who type in all CAPs REALLY ANNOY ME.
People who floss in a restaurant, which I saw recently, should be banned from the earth.

Do you know what really deserves a complaint? When I call an office and get an automated response, “Hit one for this and two for that.” Then after hitting the button, I hear this: “All our representatives are busy, but your call is important to us, so please hold.” Huh? If my call was important to you, then a person, not a machine, would have answered.

So, there is plenty to complain about, but when complaining takes over our lives, we are done (over-done like the turkey). Ingratitude is a dead end street.

We have a long list for which to be grateful: burnt turkey, flowers, Netflix, Adele, The Beatles, warm socks, comfortable shoes, drawings on the refrigerator, and the list goes on.

After Abraham Heschel suffered a heart attack, from which he never fully recovered, he told a friend: “When I regained consciousness, my first feeling was not despair and anger. I felt only gratitude to God for my life, for every moment I’ve lived.”

So, instead of complaining, how about this? “Now pass me some more of that burnt turkey.”  

~Pastor Steve

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