Today is our nation’s day of Thanksgiving. In my family, it was always spent around my grandmother Mama Sarah’s dining room table. And in our Christian tradition, Mama Sarah would always bless the food before anyone dared touch a single deviled egg. I’m not sure I realized it growing up, but Mama Sarah mostly repeated the same words each year.
In part, it went something like, “Lord, today we are grateful for this food and for this family. We are grateful, not because we have an abundance, but because we have enough.” I’ll say much the same prayer today with my family. It’s become my approach to life. Strange how things in our childhood shape us as adults.
Why celebrate a Thanksgiving at all? The reason obviously varies from family to family and likely what’s going on in our lives. I was taught as a child that it was originally the celebration of a bountiful harvest and we ate our brains out because we were “blessed” and because we could. Over the years that explanation has left me uninspired and wanting more.
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After all, doesn’t being thankful for having too much and then wallowing in it come perilously close to gluttony? And what about those who don’t have plenty? What do they have to be thankful for? I wonder what my non-college educated grandmother knew that so many have forgotten? I suspect it’s rooted in a collective fallacy of inadequacy (I’m not enough) and scarcity (there isn’t enough) that we’ve all bought into.
Foremost, we incorrectly believe that the opposite of scarcity is abundance. In fact, the opposite of scarcity is enough. This is a trap we set for ourselves. By believing that “more” will solve our feelings of inadequacy, we continue to work harder to attain an unrealistic ideal. We spend amazing amounts of time comparing our lives to unattainable versions of perfection, or holding up our current reality against our own fictional account of how great someone else has it. Green grass and fences. And it prevents us from truly being thankful.
Let’s be honest, at our core we all believe that there’s not enough. We live as if everything were in finite supply and as a result, we allow our lives to be dominated by thoughts and actions coveting, gathering and even hoarding. We’re preoccupied by getting our share, before it’s gone or before it’s too late. We tell ourselves, “If I don’t get it first, someone else will.” We seem to instinctively believe that there’s not enough money, food, water, land, power, safety, time and even love.
Isn’t it scarcity when we don’t provide health care for all who need it? Isn’t it scarcity when we turn away the stranger or immigrant instead of embracing them? Isn’t there enough? Yes, I realize people are hungry and thirsty all over the world. I also recognize that people routinely suffer injustice and loneliness. But is that because there’s truly not enough? Or could it be that we’ve collectively failed to share our abundant resources, opportunity and love where it’s in short supply?
So today I embrace the fact that perfection is an illusion. I’m reminded that the imperfections of my children make them who they are. I trust that if I ask, it will be given. If I seek, I shall find. If I knock, it shall open.
And today, if only today, I’m just thankful for having enough. Right now, today, exactly as I am.