Giving Thanks
Off the Wall, Nov
28, 2013

Over the many years that I’ve written this column, particularly pertaining to Thanksgiving, I thought I had said everything one could say. But while giving more thought to the matter, I have concluded I have yet to mention a few more thoughts that entered my mind.

One of my many ministries is visiting Pittsburgh to feed the hungry. Many of these people are destitute. Poor does not describe them. You can see it on their attire, their flesh and physical male up. We spend one hour attending feeding the needy, handing out clothing and talking to them. And for everything we do, they are most thankful.

Returning, one may not think about it, but it’s almost like escaping from one whelm of living into a whole new way of life. We really don’t think much about how we are dressed, that our vehicles are warm that take us back to our residences, that we even have homes that have a roof over our heads, are warmed or cooled according to season and have a bed on which to sleep with clean linens, a pillow and enough blankets to additionally keep us warm.

Walking in the front, side or back door of our “mansions,” we already have goals in our mind that have to be accomplished. Our wanderings may take us to the kitchen where we will snack on something before plopping down on our favorite chairs to watch a bit of television before we retire. Maybe, instead, one would prefer to do a bit of reading to relax.

Then, it’s off to the bedroom where after looking in the closet, bed attire is hanging and slippers right below, placed on the flooring where they can be fingered for easy removal from this area. There are not just a few shirts hanging, but maybe a dozen to two dozen. Women will have dresses for all seasons, some blouse and pant combos both on one hanger. Sometimes it takes two closets to hold all the clothing both individually own, if a husband and wife both reside together. I don’t have to go on. I think it becomes apparent that we, who don’t live under bridges or in a cardboard box in an alley somewhere, do have a different lifestyle, yet how often do we giving thanks to our Lord and God for the many things we possess.

These people would love this lifestyle. But that’s only one side of the story that I excluded in the past.

The second is family orientation. People have written to me before and noted that very thing. Relatives motor from all over the place to meet at one person’s house where fellowship is had and it’s one big happy party. Their intention is part of a tradition that was already planted, for the seed of gathering together was sown in the groundwork by relatives before them. This customary practice has carried with it a movement, if that is one way to call it is an annual event. But a most wonderful thing is occurring here. Each person recognizes the fact that a cousin, uncle or husband is still part of the family and they all know that’s all worth giving thanks.

But here is the one thing that struck me the most. Thanksgiving is NOT a time where families get together and gouge themselves full of food, carry on and drink themselves blind or spend the day watching television, may it be football or game-play participations.

What aggravates me to no end is to watch the whole family take part in these video games, practically ignoring those whom have come to visit. After dinner, if the relatives aren’t fast asleep on the couch or nearby lounge chairs, they are grabbing for that remote control to see if the other or others can be beat during a competition that one of the parents or visitors brought for the “the day of togetherness.”

I am bothered by interrelationships giving way to self-gratifications. In other words, the idea of getting together and sharing using a meal as a coupler has been replaced by technological advances. Sure, the meal plays a part, but only an integral part of the proceedings. Sorry to say, I see it as “video day” and not the true Thanksgiving it was meant to be.

We have it soft compared to the poor wherever they are. May we always give thanks for we are so blessed.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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