As Thanksgiving approaches we begin thinking of all the things we are thankful for.   They usually include things such as family, friends, jobs, etc.  We take this holiday to gather with our loved ones and enjoy a big feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and a plethora of desserts.

It’s a good day to watch football and relax while combing through the Black Friday ads and begin planning our Christmas decorating, baking and shopping days ahead.

But I have a deeper appreciation for Thanksgiving and what to be thankful for after we talked to a friend about his trip to Africa.  He told a story of the children at this school where he was volunteering for a week for dental procedures.  He described that the kids had something they called porridge for lunch.  It looked similar to chicken noodle soup (as we know it) with rice in it.  It was a very small portion and then the children would have a little bit more substantive meal for dinner each evening – but not much.  He told of how they were up before dawn doing chores to prepare for the day.

He told of a lady who found great pride in her role as the cook for the week fixing what they deemed the best of the best for the volunteers – such as cooked grasshoppers for delicacies.

It reminded me of my trip to the Dominican Republic several years ago where we took a medical mission team from our church to the underprivileged areas to help those in need.  I saw people living in huts and old makeshift homes with pieces of tin for a roof and a dirt floor.  Children holding small metal bowls filled with water and noodles as their daily meal.  I saw people so sick they could hardly walk and children crying because of fever.

It was hard to return home to our life of freedom and whatever food we wanted; to drive our dependable cars into the garages of our homes where we sleep in our air-conditioned and heated bedrooms with running water and electricity.  Of course as each day went by I became comfortable again in my surroundings and began taking things for granted – like that the light would come on with a flip of a switch; that water would come out of the faucet with a turn of a handle; that microwaves would warm up food and refrigerators would keep the milk cold.

But as I listened to our friend tell of his recent experiences in Africa, I realize that I need to get back to the basics of thankfulness.  I need to remember to be thankful for the turkey on my plate; for the home to gather family and friends; for my socks and shoes; for a towel and soap; for a glass of water and a piece of bread.

As we begin our venture into the Thanksgiving holiday, let us remember to truly be thankful.  It’s easy to remember to be thankful for the big things, but let’s not forget the little things.  God has blessed ……. and I am thankful!