Thaksgiving and Platitudes

What does it mean to be “thankful”? 

I know, it means having a distended stomach, and wondering if you will live until leftover sandwiches!  Watching TV and playing like all the people in the house are not getting on your last nerve.

The truly simple and strangely absent definition is that “thankful” means what we do tomorrow. 

Some people will return to risking everything they have to build a new business.  Some will turn and continue to invest their fifth, twenty-sixth year or more into their marriage and family.  Some will go back on patrol of our borders or in other countries.  Many will go back to work in stores, hospitals, police and fire stations, governmental offices doing jobs we really don’t want to know about. 

Thanksgiving and thankful go way beyond any specific emotion, ultimately to some form of courage or grit where I return to life, roll up our sleeves, and do what needs to be done, that has fallen to me.  Glorious or mundane, courageous or grinding, I do what falls to me to do. 

However tired, full, joyous, or achingly empty, it shows us all how ‘thankful’ you are and for what, really. 


We live by proxy.

We pay a girl at the grocery store in exchange for our proxy in producing the food that we just bought.  That puts our proxy in the hands of millions of farmers around the world, fertilizer companies, seed producers and designers, beef / hog/ chicken producers, lobbyists, federal and state programs, legislators and inspectors. 

We pay at the pump for our proxy that puts our money (and taxes) into the hands of producers, regulators, inspectors, financiers, legislators, lobbyists and interest groups, researchers, and pipeline / delivery agents. 

We hand over our proxy for drugs that we purchase from someone we may or may not know in the pharmacy, but as soon as it comes into their pharmacy, all the rest of the people in that chain are completely unknown to us, and they have no reason to care for us as individuals except in some vague ideal. 

It is the same for our car, clothes, shoes, office products, computers, books, phones and shrubs. 

The supply chains and pipelines are so gargantuan and interconnected and governmental — that we have no idea to whom we have handed our proxy. 

Maybe we were first seduced or desensitized to the idea in church.  You know the place where we handed over any responsibility for changing the world in Christ’s name, to professionals in our church, conventions, seminaries and don’t forget the missionaries.  They will all work at it better than I would, right?

It turns out that if you grow your own tomatoes they taste astonishingly better than anything you can buy at Walmart on its best day. 

It turns out that if you actually become the minister, steward – whatever term you use – to other people, magical things happen. 

It turns out that in every relationship that connects me to my doc, pharmacist, farmers at the farmers’ market I have retained a few more rights to my life and health — and joy. 

It turns out that I should keep my proxy and give it up only after grave considerations.