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Striving for an attitude of gratitude

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By Rev. James Snyder

Now that Thanksgiving is over I can sigh a deep, well-deserved relief. Being thankful for everything is very hard work. During the Thanksgiving season, I pasted a gratuitous smile on my face claiming to be thankful for everything, but deep down inside somewhere there is a streak of rebellion that struggles with this concept of being thankful.

I must admit that I am working on it because the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage keeps telling me, “You had better be working on that attitude of yours.”

And so I work on my attitude, but I must confess it is rather hard. I admire people, such as my wife, who claim to be thankful for everything that happens in life. I would never want to question her sincerity (at least not in some venue that she could hear me), but I do harbor some doubts about this whole matter of being thankful for everything.

I will grant that there are many things to be thankful for in life. I will be the first to acknowledge that many things that happened to me have created a deep sense of gratitude in my heart.

The list could go on forever, but there are a few things that I am really thankful for.

I am thankful to live in a country such as ours. I am thankful to be married to someone who puts up with my idiosyncrasies. (Grant me, that is a big item for thanks.) I am thankful that I have my health. And regardless of what other people say, I am thankful for a level of sanity enabling me to operate day-to-day.

And then there is that infamous list of things I am not thankful for ... no matter what anybody says. I have a sneaking suspicion everybody has this list but does not have the courage to let anybody know about it.

Let me list a few things I am really not thankful for ... no matter what anyone says.

I am really not thankful for the time change that happens every six months. Spring forward, fall backward – all this nonsense only serves to confuse me. I have a hard time remembering where I am, let alone what time of day it is. Am I an hour ahead or am I an hour behind?

Another thing I am not really thankful for is music on the telephone when I’m put on hold. This is the most irritating thing I can think of, at least right now. Why do they think I want to hear music of their choosing? This is America, after all, and everybody has the right to choose things. And I like to choose my own music, thank you.

I do not like to be put on hold in the first place, and then tortured with some music defying the meaning of music. If they want to play music, they should have somewhere where I can choose what kind of music I want to listen to while I am on hold. I could be thankful for that.

And while I am on the subject, I really am not thankful for all of those telephone calls soliciting money from me. If I wanted to give them money, I would be the first one to contact them. Unless I contact them and offer to give money, I do not want to be harassed by a telephone call.

Along with this would go those political calls soliciting my vote. If a politician is so desperate that he needs to call me for one last vote, he better be calling me in person and not some recorded message.

As I look over this list of things I am not thankful for,  there is one that I cannot omit. No list of mine, no matter how incomplete it might be, could ever overlook one item.

Regardless of the time of the year, I am never thankful for broccoli. In my opinion, God created the New York cheesecake and then to be nasty about the whole thing, the devil threw in a sprig of broccoli.

I do not like broccoli because it looks like a cross between a vertically challenged tree and a toadstool, and we all know what a toadstool is used for. I have every reason to believe that broccoli is a member of the fungus family. Thankfully, it is not a member of my family, which is the only thanks I can offer on the subject.

I do not mind if people eat broccoli as long as they do not eat it in front of me or insist that I, "just try a bite and you’ll like it." The next time someone says that to me, I just may bite them and see if they like it.

This is only a partial list of things I am not thankful for,  but I am trying to work on my “attitude of gratitude.” It is not easy and requires a lot of intestinal fortitude on my part.

Maybe an important part of an “attitude of gratitude” has to do with just being content. That could be what Paul was thinking of when he wrote to the Philippians. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11 KJV.)

I am learning gratitude has nothing at all to do with things but rather with personal contentment.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road. He and his wife, Martha, live in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 687-4240, or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church Web site is www.whatafellowship.com.