Today is Thanksgiving Day in America – a celebration that was hard to hang onto because from all sides I am being pushed into Christmas consumerism. But I just finished writing to all seven of the kids I sponsor around the world though Compassion International. That time brought Thanksgiving blessings into my heart despite the world around me.
I wrote to these children about being thankful for clean water and a warm house and enough food, knowing full well that if they have any of these things it is only because of Compassion. I told them that it snowed several inches today (something many of them marvel at) today and that while I was out shoveling a man came by with a snow blower and helped me clean out the driveway. He told me he does this for fun and while he still can. He is planning his tenth back surgery in January and doesn’t know what the rest of the year will bring. I told them that my bathroom needs painting and that a person from church has offered to “pay it forward” and paint it. I told them that a strong rain and wind storm blew open our storm door so strongly that it damaged ruined not only the door but also the wrought iron railing on the porch as well – and I told them that two different people from our church are involved in fixing all that. I told them that because God provides for me, I want to provide for them. I told them that the thing I am most thankful for this year is being able to sponsor them and hopefully help to make their lives better. And because of all of this my cynicism about the holiday season is gone!
I told them all these things knowing that one of these children has not yet been located by Compassion since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. And I realize that two of these early-teens boys live in areas in South America where they are surrounded by gang activity and crime. One of these children lives an area of Africa where she is at high risk for human trafficking and sex slavery as well as HIV. And one lives in one of the poorest area of India. She helps care for the animals her family raises because when her parents do find work it is MUCH below subsistence pay. The youngest boy lives in Ethiopia where he is fortunate to be going to school because of Compassion. The oldest (he is 18) lives in Tanzania. He wants to be a doctor and help his people, but his single-parent mother (his father is in jail) is struggling to pay for his schooling and he is struggling with his science class. And yet these children are positive and full of gratitude and as happy to be a part of my life as I am to be a part of theirs.
My holiday today is – and for the next several weeks – will be joyful and thankful as well as very simple. My one concession to Thanksgiving abundance was making a pecan pie – which neither my husband or I should be eating anyway. And this is one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever celebrated.
My Christmas shopping is done because I am recognizing that my adult children better at knowing what their children want and need – and may even prefer funds for a family experience or for camp next summer. My children and husband in turn know that all I want for Christmas is their support of Compassion’s Philippine Disaster Relief Fund – support I will also be giving in honor of them and other family and friends at Christmas. Now that all that is done, I can concentrate during Advent on the best gift of all, the love of God shown through Jesus.
I’m hoping this post doesn’t seem “holier than thou.” My wish instead is that it brings a spirit of hope and gratitude into your lives and honors the holiness of this season.