I am terrible with tools and things mechanical.
Now that Thanksgiving Day is past, and so is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you will continue to be deluged with ads on TV and radio extolling all the “perfect Christmas gifts” for your loved ones. Everything is “that perfect gift.” For example, a six-pack of Tidy Bowl is perfect, and so is a new Lexus. Diamonds, dog beds, electric toothbrushes, ear wax remover, exercise equipment, Omaha meat,and Michael Jordan underwear all seem to qualify as that “perfect” gift.
Now, to be transparent, I am going to make a suggestion for a nice gift for Christmas; really a stocking stuffer kind of gift, not guaranteed to make your significant other fall in love with you or simply smother you with kisses. If you have someone you care about who is a person who reads lots of books, I suggest two. Both of them were written by me, and are the first two in a series about Thomas O’Shea and his adventures. (The third in the series is done and due to come out in early 2017, and I’m working on the fourth.) Their titles are Signs of Struggle and A Far Gone Night. They combine mystery, intrigue, romance, and homicide with humor in a small town in northeastern Iowa. Really. You’ll like them, and your friends and family will, too. You can purchase them on Amazon, hard copy or e-book.
Whether you purchase these books or not, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But if you do buy the books, you won’t be sorry. Way better than a pair of red and green boxers, or a Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer car freshner. Seriously.
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is before us, I am preparing myself for the enjoyment of receiving Merry Christmas greetings in emails, e-cards, and the traditional Christmas cards. Ah, those Christmas cards; you know, the ones that brag about how wonderful their family is and, oh, by the way, Merry Christmas. I provide a sample here: "The Schmaltz family has had a wonderful year. Mimsy was named All-Conference in soccer at State U. while maintaining a perfect 4-point in her astrophysics classes, and being Homecoming Queen was a special treat. And we are soooo proud of Hunter! Sophomore Class President at Loveland Day School (private) to go along with his being the starting quarterback on the VARSITY football team! And just a SOPHOMORE! He's already receiving letters from head coaches of several major college teams. All of this while carrying a 3.814237 GPA. And Ray was promoted at work again and earned a hefty raise to go along with our all-expense-paid three days in Cancun as a bonus from his company. Of course Mom is always in the background, cheering on the fam when not publishing her first novel, taking Christian Pole Dancing classes to maintain her figure, and guest appearances on that top-rated TV cooking show - you know the one ; - ) Well, I guess that's it. And oh, Merry Christmas from our new, 4,250 square foot house to yours!"
One year, dear reader, we received a Christmas card that was a photograph of the family standing next to their new airplane. We sent them a picture of us standing around our recently-repainted Pinto. And Happy Birthday to Jesus!
In Flannery O'Connor's short story, 'Greenleaf,' one of the characters says, 'I thank God for ever'thang!' That's a pretty solid theological approach to Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for, and I try not to take anything for granted. I have a wonderful (albeit long-suffering) bride who inspires and loves me, daughters who make me enthusiastically proud, and a dog (Zimbabwean Cattle Retriever - Crested) who adores me. I'm not going to say anything about the cats.
But when we have blessings, we also have those annoying, tenacious responsibilities. I have excellent health as a gift, but I also try to be wise in exercise, nutrition, and rest (especially rest). I have a great job, but I need to keep trying to be a better professor. You get the idea.
But there's another element in life for which I give thanks, a cause for thanksgiving that I can do nothing to improve. And that's God's grace, His unmerited favor.
So while Thanksgiving specifies a national day to pause and count our blessings, and that's fine, shouldn't we be doing that every day? Do we need someone to tell us to be thankful? I hope not.
Mr. Greenleaf's joyful exclamation needs to ring true for all of us. And, like him, I thank God for everything. Happy Thanksgiving!