A Thanksgiving wish: Put words into action

info@islandpacket.comNovember 21, 2011 

As a culture, we like to react. We take in information and then post, tweet and text about what we've observed.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it's not unusual for me to look back on the week as a total blur, forgetting whom I've talked to when and what exactly I've committed to. If I don't write something into my calendar, there's a good chance I'll completely forget it. As Visa so aptly put it, life does indeed come at us fast.

This attitude seems to have affected the younger folks occupying both our schools, churches and streets in major cities across the country. The United States holds tremendous opportunities for education, employment and success -- yet it seems that we take the good stuff happening for granted. I love conversations with idealistic middle schoolers who explain that their life's goal is to move out when they're 18, live in New York City and be a model or professional athlete. They have no concept of the personal investment these lofty goals require. Not that everyone has to walk uphill both ways in the snow to actualize their potential -- but no one can deny that among many there seems to be a sense of entitlement.

Climbing onto my "pastor's corner" soapbox, I'd like to propose the beginnings of a remedy: reflection and gratitude. This week's holiday seemed like an opportune time to start. I think almost everyone will rattle off some sort of benediction over the turkey this week, but how many will reflect on just what they are thankful for before rushing off to the "midnight madness" sales that start at 10 p.m.? (Which just strikes me as ludicrous -- who wants to try on clothes when they're still digesting that second piece of pie?)

It sounds clichè, but it would appear that while pushing children and young adults to succeed in both the academic and professional realms, it is also important to teach them to reflect on what -- and Who -- makes any success possible.

So in addition to simply "saying a blessing" before you pass the stuffing, consider adopting one new way to put your words into action.

How can this be done? Consider adding the following to your family's routine this week: Give each person at dinner an opportunity to share what has been the greatest blessing in his or her life this past year. The answers might surprise you.

Or write a "thank you" note to someone who enriches your life, and encourage your children to do the same -- don't wait for a gift or favor to say "thanks." When shopping for food and gifts this year, take the opportunity to purchase items for those who are in need (most stores have boxes for such donations -- if you can't find what you're looking for, call a local church).

Most importantly, when you sit down to Thanksgiving, remember that's precisely the point. Thank the one who makes it all possible: God.

Alison Griswold is the director of youth ministry at St. Francis By the Sea Catholic Church. Follow her on Twitter @alisongriz. Read her blog at www.teamcatholic.blogspot.com.

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