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Have an attitude of gratitude

November 25, 2011
Bill Finnigan - Community Columnist ( , Tribune Chronicle |

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I trust the day was special with family and friends, enjoying the traditional turkey feast with all the trimmings.

I'm writing from out of town, where we are visiting with our family. If for no other reason, Thanksgiving is a good excuse to gather with those you haven't seen for a time.

What a privilege to sit around the table and rehearse the great blessings we've received from God's bountiful hand.

Thanksgiving Day has been somewhat eclipsed by so-called Black Friday, which initiates the craze of sale-conscious Christmas shoppers. Do you remember when folks waited until after Thanksgiving to begin decorating for Christmas? This gave credence to a time-honored and precious tradition.

In 1620, our forefathers landed at Plymouth Rock, seeking religious freedom in the New World. A treaty was made with the Wampanoag Indians who assisted these pilgrims in supplying seeds and helping them fish.

A year later, they celebrated their first harvest, thanking God for His bountiful and sustaining increase. This day of thanksgiving eventually became an official national event in 1863 under President Abe Lincoln. It's been a family affair ever since.

It's neat that so many become benevolent on this annual day. In my years at the Rescue Mission in Youngstown, the number of volunteers to serve dinner sometimes seemed to exceed the clients. Everyone had the same idea on the same day.

Laborers were relatively sparse on the other 364 days. Wouldn't it be great to celebrate Thanksgiving every day without the fanfare? Better yet, why not develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving, and make it thanks living? Is it possible to actually cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

We live in a day when folks, young and old, seem unthankful. We find it difficult to appreciate what we do have, as opposed to what we lack. In our country, even those on the so-called ''poverty'' level are richer than kings in some other lands. It's been said that to have a warm home, a job and a bank account places one in the upper 5 percent of the world's population. That puts so-called poverty in perspective. We don't need to feel guilty for reaping the rewards of hard work - just thankful.

There's so much selfishness and greed in the world, as though the goal of life is to see how much wealth we can accumulate. Someone said the only real difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys! Whoever dies with the most stuff wins!

And yet, how many of us have learned that things don't really satisfy our inner spirit; moreover, we can't take it with us. Indeed, the best things in life are free.

We may not enjoy perfect health, but how grateful we should be for relative wellness. No, we may not live in the nicest house in town, but thankfully we have a roof over our heads with adequate facilities. Our job may be somewhat difficult, with minimum salary, but it's more than some have. Thank God for family and friends, as imperfect and challenging as they may be. Let's celebrate what we do have, rather than what we lack.

My friend has a sign in his office, citing what he calls the eleventh commandment, ''Thou shalt not whine.''

Let's quit the belly-achin'! Anyone can gripe and complain, but it takes inner grace to be thankful. If we got what we really deserve, we'd be in bad shape. May we turn from our selfishness and thanklessness, developing instead an attitude of gratitude.

Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at



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