When Sno-Cones Speak to Thanksgiving

I have been happily hosting questions, musings, and wonder in my head this week as Thanksgiving Day and celebrations approach.

What does it mean to give thanks? 

Whats the opposite of thanks?Coves Rad

First, the verb.

To give something requires you to offer something you have to someone else. Giving can be partial, (give some money, some time, some attention) or complete (all of your heart, the whole piece of hard candy, or Jesus’ whole life laid down), but happens with a transfer of possession: something I have, I choose to give to you.  

In the dictionary, definitions for “give” include, “to supply, impart”, and “to present gifts.”

As we approach Thanksgiving, perhaps the action of giving thanks should be our sacrifice to impart or supply a gift to another. 

An illustration: For two years in a row, Kristin and I have served for a shift at the school carnival sno-cone stand. Every kid there can have one free sno-cone; they need only to stand in line. When they approach the table, every kid can choose blue, red, or purple, or the mix of all three. We scoop, squirt, and hand it over. When we serve about 100 sno-cones in an hour, we accumulate a bit of data about children’s thanking habits. Indeed, saying “Thank you” or “giving thanks” is part habit. From year one to two, our data is very similar.

About half of the kids who grab a sno-cone say thank you. Between us, we have six kids, we admit the 50/50 ratio applies inside our families.

I am willing to totally take into consideration the carnival environment: a highly energetic, chaotic, fun, busy, and sugar-filled night with friends. Even the most polite kid might slip out of thanking practice. However, I’ve been thinking about how much it bothers us and why. What does it mean when a kid stops with sno-cone in hand to look back and say, “Thank you?” I think it means they are willing to give attention, pause, and appreciation. It means they acknowledge, us, the person behind the gift and reception of something they would not have had without help. When they don’t, we feel a bit ignored, unappreciated, and like our finger are so, so cold.

Perhaps to give thanks is to acknowledge our own limits. Saying thank you reveals our dependence on others to get what we want, or other times, desperately need.

If we are not giving thanks, what are we doing? What is the opposite of thanks?

Now the noun.

Without prefixes, modifiers, or any participles, what follows are some opposites from my own behavior.

When I’m not giving thanks, I might be giving:

  • demands
  • excuses
  • opinions, or
  • complaints

All of which have their place in thoughts, conversations or blogs (ha!), but none of which should replace a moment where thanks should be given.

So for thanksgiving, I’m going to try to supply gratitude, impart appreciation, realize I cannot exist or thrive on my own, name the gifts I’ve received for which I am so thankful, and spend time with people who I love and appreciate so very much.

I hope to have thank-filled conversations. Drew Lap's street found this Seth Godin gift, The Thanksgiving Readerfor a 20 minute communal reflection on Thanksgiving around a table or living room. Absent from Seth’s beautiful compilation is the reminder of James 1:17-18,

” Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

May you give and receive, to and from, God and others,

the blessings of grace, an attitude of gratitude, and the wonder of watching as you pause and enjoy.

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