A MONTH FOR GIVING THANKS

Isn’t it amazing that almost every holiday has a song except Thanksgiving? What’s THAT all about?!? There’s even songs for Halloween via The Great Pumpkin, thanks to Charlie Brown.
 Why do we give Thanksgiving such short shrift? Thankfulness is one of the greatest qualities to have, as it means you realize how blessed you are. My theory is that if you have 1) peace with God 2) bread on the table 3) a roof over your head 4) a family who loves and respects you 5) a good reputation among your peers and 6) 4 good friends, then you’re ahead of 95% of the people on earth. If you’re not there yet, start working on this list! Still, the fact that you are still here above the ground means that there is still some hope for you.
I enjoy praying, and make it a daily habit. However, on Saturdays, I just spend time running through the week’s events and thanking God for each event, or at least giving me the strength to get through them. It’s my way of giving God “the day off” from my problems. He probably likes a word of appreciation from His creation. Try it some time, and see how it affects your music and attitude!
 Are there things to complain about? Of course! But think about the past week. What bad things COULD have happened to you that didn’t! You could have been born in poverty, in a country where you’d be an “outcaste” or even as a slave. You could have been born in Stockton! Things could always be worse; by the grace of God, there go I. As long as you’re alive, and there’s a God who interacts with us, there’s hope!
So, as we’ve done in the past, we’ll list some major reasons to be thankful…
 
1) We have Someone to thank! Can you imagine if there were no God? Who would be be grateful to? Aardvarks? Even worse-ourselves? Scary thought!
2) In America, the pilgrims DID NOT come here in 1620 for religious freedom, as most of the textbooks dictate. If you read the historical records of William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and was our first governor and historian, he states the reason was to make this country a Christian nation. Now, you may not like that fact, but Abe Lincoln once met with an ambassador from South America, and when asked the diplomat the difference between the two continents, he was told, “Our explorers came for gold; yours came for God, and that’s that made all the difference in destinies.”
3) Don’t like your religion? You can change it in America to whatever you want! Try doing that in Saudi Arabia, India or Pakistan! We have freedoms other people can’t even dream of! We have a lady from Egypt staying with us under asylum because she dared to have two of her fellow doctors convert from Islam to Christianity.
4) After he served two terms,  George Washington stepped down as President of the United States, and John Adams walked up to take his place. No coups, no bloodshed, no army showdown. The fact that our government can change that easily is a true gift from God. How’d you like to have the Assad family for your leaders?!?
5) Don’t like the government? Change it! When I was in Malawi back in the 80s, I was in a restaurant and asked the waiter “What’s going to happen when President Banda dies?” The place got quiet as a church, and the waiter had his eyes as big as saucers. “Please, sir, do not say these things,” he pleaded. “It’s not legal to discuss politics in this country.” Quit your belly aching!
6) Is our past perfect? Obviously, no-we’re sinful people! But even with things like slavery and civil rights, we look for where we fall short and work on correcting them. We fought a war to free the slaves. Brazil also had slaves, and they didn’t have to worry about freeing them because they killed them all. We have changed laws and hearts over equal rights for people, and do it by appealing to God, not to guns. Name another country that does that! Everyone gets to vote here. Tell THAT to the people of Zimbabwe, where they joke, “One person, one vote, one time.”
7) Even with Obama’s disastrous “Affordable (ha ha) Care Act” we still have the best medical care in the world. I’ve practiced and lived in other countries. In Italy, you wait ALL DAY to see someone for 2 minutes. And don’t get me started about Canada’s “perfect” health plan. My mother’s side of the family lived there, and left because the health care was such a disaster. I do medical missionary work all over the world, and although the world dislikes our politics, they come in droves for American doctors. Why? We tell the truth! What a concept! Besides, have we ever lived longer than any other time in American history?
8) No matter how poor you are, what family you came from, whatever your religion is, you have a fighting chance to do as well as you’re willing to work in the US. No caste system like in India, where you’re stuck impoverished the rest of your life, or like in the Middle East where your last name dictates if you’re going to be hired for a job. It’s based on performance here in the states. While the news always harps about the “10% living below the poverty line,” what is not mentioned is that the people that were living in squalor 10  years ago are now in the middle and upper classes. Most of the  “new poor” are people recently entering this country for the simple reason they know they have a fighting chance to increase their lot in life. What a joy!
What other country can someone who grows up poor, or comes from another country with nothing but the clothes on his or  her back, work hard and actually change their status, going from lower to middle to upper in one or two generations? I just finished reading a bio of Satchel Paige, and it’s a story, like so many others, that “could only happen in America.”
9) Want a drink of water? Put your lips up to a fountain for free! Try doing that almost anywhere else, and run to the nearest toilet!
10) We live in the country that has given  us Gershwin, Ellington, Miles, Monk, Ella, Cash, Charles, Berry, BB King, Muddy Waters…how long a list do you want?
 11) Disagree with your relatives over the Thanksgiving meal? Great! No one has to get shot! I have tons of friends on Facebook that I vehemently argue with about politics and religion, but can still end with “Hey, what about those Dodgers!”
12) Hey, if you’ve GOT relatives be thankful. Got a great wife, two wonderful daughters, two great sons in law, two wonderful granddaughters and another on the way. And there’s nothing like having a granddaughter that pushes my daughter around like she did to us. God’s revenge!  And my wife who tolerates me!
13) Can you read? Walk? Move? See? Hear? Breath and swallow without straining? Quit complaining! You can taste pizza, pasta, gyros, Thai food and buttered popcorn! Not to
mention Pinks’ hot dogs!

14)      We’ve liberated more countries than you can count. What would France, Korea, England and Poland be, just to name a few, without our help?

 

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15 ) In my family we’ve got whites, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Christians and agnostics. As we like to say, “the problem isn’t skin, but sin.”  We all get along, and have a blast ripping each other-what other country could boast that?

 

 

16) Even though people say we’re a “racist” nation, we’re the most tolerant country in the world. Just the other day, I was in a strip mall, and the Mexican restaurant had Middle Eastern guys working the counter, and next door was a Middle Eastern place with…you guessed it…Mexicans serving the food. I love this country!

 

17)  Happy Thanksgiving!

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