I watched my 3-year-old grandson rip open the festively wrapped gift from his little friend. The other boy and his momma stood by in smiling anticipation of Blaine’s response.
After staring at the shiny cover of the new picture book for a long moment, Blaine’s bottom lip slipped into pouty-protrusion mode and he proclaimed in his seldom-used (thank goodness!) whiney voice, “It’s not about Larry Boy. I wanted Larry Boy. I don’t want this.”
And with that, to the utmost embarrassment of Mimi (moi), he handed the unappreciated gift back to its giver.
(By the way, in case you don’t have a 3-year-old handy, Larry Boy is the superhero of Veggie Tales.)
Gratitude. It’s the reason for the season, right? We’re supposed to be grateful for the most-amazing-of-all-time gift of Papa God’s son in the form of a wee babe in a manger. And we are. Grateful. For at least ten minutes every day including meals. But what about the other 1,430 minutes?
I suspect that if we truly expose our hidden feelings, for at least a few of those leftover minutes, we’re all a little like Blaine in his blunt, ugly ungratefulness.
Oh, c’mon – don’t deny that you inwardly cringe when you open those hideous socks that thwomped around in the shaken box an awful lot like that designer purse you were hoping for. Or that you fight an impulse to run out the back door and hide behind the philodendron the moment you see your mother-in-law entering the front. Or that you wish you didn’t have to host this ding dang Christmas dinner yet again this year because your sorry cousin Edna won’t take a turn.
Yep, I fear we all inwardly feel a bit like 3-year-olds at times, whether we act like it or not. Raise your hand if you resemble that remark. Mine’s up. What became a teaching moment about gratitude for little Blaine became a lesson for me, too.
So what if, beside the obvious spiritual implication here (eternal gratitude for eternal life through Papa God’s Jesus-gift), we begin to view our current relationships and physical possessions as something about which to be really and truly thankful?
How about if we consider this: What if we woke up today with only the things we thanked Papa for yesterday?
I think we might look at things very differently. Warm socks are a treasure on cold winter nights, a comfort that, sadly, many people don’t have. The mother of your spouse did one thing very, very good just for you – she produced and loved that person who means more to you than anyone else on earth (or you wouldn’t have married him, right?). And besides, she only visits occasionally – another BIG thing for which to be thankful.
And another thing we often forget: All that food threatening the collapse of your dining room table is not a right, it’s a privilege not enjoyed by more than half the world. We are not entitled. This is w-a-y more than our share. More, even, than we deserve. If you think of it that way, Aunt Bertha’s creamed Brussels sprouts take on a whole new luster, don’t they?
Health. Home. Food. Oxygen. Clean water. Warm clothes. Loved ones gathered round. Each one an incredible blessing in its own right.
It’s all in the way we look at it, isn’t it? Like a selfish 3-year-old. Or like the humble recipient of every good and perfect gift from our Father who loves us intentionally and unconditionally now and forever.