Thinks-giving … November 19, 2011

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Live, outdoors in Ambler, PA

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No, it’s not a typo. The title of today’s essay is Thinksgiving. Because once again we have come to the time of year when we are supposed to be celebrating the gratitude of our journey and the great hope of the birth of the Prince of Peace, but instead, we’re surrounded by organizations and individuals who want to bring us down by reminding us how tough it is for some people during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have never met or seen a generation in my entire life that spends so much time thinking without ever becoming thoughtful. Let me ask you a simple question. What makes this particular holiday more depressing than others? Wouldn’t you think that Easter would be equally as challenging to folks who are under a cloud of despair? I mean, think about it—one man raising from the dead when our graveyards are full? How about July 4th? Firecrackers and marching bands in full blaze and array, when I’m stuck here with my fizzled activities, unable to toot my own horn? Even Arbor Day would make you mad if you were depressed—because the trees dare to keep blooming while you are drooping.

But these great thinkers of our generation don’t spend any time attacking any other holidays. Just Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is during these two occasions that we are to reflect upon the plight of humanity and be sensitive not to flaunt our thankfulness lest we “offend one of these little ones.”

Now, I am not a great conspiracy buff, but I find it a bit suspicious that these two celebrations in particular are targeted by these ever-so-concerned souls. We certainly do not suggest that Labor Day be kept under the hat because the unemployment rate is at 9%.

No, I think there is a nasty streak in all of us—we actually resents the hell out of being thankful and are equally frightened of becoming so giddy with joy that we regain our childlike faith. We’re just grumpy—and the idea of escaping our grumpiness for about thirty-one days during the year is so galling that we decide to use the excuse of other people’s depression as a reason for why the turkey plucking and tree trimming should calm down, if not cease altogether.

But it is because we, as a people, are depressed, frustrated, hurt, damaged and faithless that Thanksgiving and Christmas need to be taken out of the realm of just thinking—and pressed mightily into the action of participation.

Therefore, when you hear people complaining about the holidays, do yourself and them a favor. Quietly walk away. This season is a treasure-chest of blessing cast down from the heavens for us, if we’re just willing to unlock the secret and find the gift.

I am not thinkful. I am thankful—unabashedly, unapologetically and undeterred. I am NOT sensitive to other people’s beliefs during Christmas because my belief in the birth of brotherhood, peace on earth and good will toward men MUST be celebrated—or truly we are requiring that the elves come and rebuke us for our lack and put us on the naughty list.

Here’s a suggestion. You have about five or six days until Thanksgiving. Every day before you begin your journey into the human soup of life, sit down and write five quick emails to friends. Those emails should consist of this: “You make me …” Then tell the person what his or her presence, friendship and humanity means to you.

  • “You make me better.”
  • “You make me loving.”
  • “You make me think.”
  • “You make me believe in God.”
  • “You make me richer.”

Tell them what they do that makes your “thanks” bell ring.  Then close it with thanks and sign your name. It won’t take you even a minute-and-a-half to do it—and at the end of the six-day period, thirty people who are being inundated with an overly zealous reminder of despair and destitution will be uplifted to be thankful instead of thinkful.

I will tell each and every one of you during this blessed time that you make me … valuable.  Thanks. 

Jonathan

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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