I’ll be thankful at Thanksgiving, but as for Christmas I gotta have it all’

I just have to get some stuff off my heart. … I was wrapping presents for my daughter, taking a mental inventory of the items that we had gotten her and what Santa Claus was getting her, hoping she was going to be excited, surprised, and happy with what she would be receiving.

Then I wondered “will she be thankful?” She is a great kid, but the honest answer is no. She won’t be thankful. She doesn’t know how to be thankful because I have never taught her how to be. I guess what I mean is that I have not let her “want” for anything. She was an easy baby. She didn’t cry for a bottle, really; I just gave her one when it was time.

She kind of does her own thing. If I buy her something and she doesn’t want to wear it, then I keep giving her things in hopes that she will accept my meager (sometimes not so meager) offerings and be thankful for it. Alas, it is all for naught. It isn’t her fault really. Of all I have given, I have never given the gift of appreciation. She has no concept of need, or hunger, or lack of shelter – and thank God too – but I have served her a great injustice all the same.

And I have to be absolutely unequivocally fair. I guess I overcompensated for what I THOUGHT I had missed out on. I couldn’t let her “do without.” My pride wouldn’t let me. It is like I whiplashed against what I didn’t have. If I didn’t have it, then she would have two, mostly before she even knew she wanted it. I set her up to be selfish and never satisfied, and myself up because I thought I wasn’t being good enough.

What does it mean “TO DO WITHOUT” anyway? There are places in this world where people have to hunt their food, not for sport or pleasure, but out of necessity. In some cases that is a cultural or geographical distinction, but in others it is because that is the only way to get anything to eat.

If we want meat, we head down to the market and purchase it, as they have purchased it from a supplier whose livelihood it is to provide it. Some people have to hunt all day for food to feed their family, and sometimes come home empty handed. I have seen with my eyes the homeless searching for food in garbage cans. He probably was looking for the food I threw away because I was full or I didn’t care for the taste. I never had to do that. I might have missed meals from time to time, and at times didn’t have what I wanted, but I ate.

“TO DO WITHOUT.” There are places in the world that live quite differently from the way we do. You see, our “standards” tell us that we should not be satisfied with anything less than so many square feet and hardwood floors and so many baths. We have in our hearts placed a hierachy on where we live. Some in fancy houses cringe at the thought of even visiting someone in a mobile home, when to some a tent from Walmart would make a magnificent shelter.

It is not that we shouldn’t live the way we do. We can indulge in those things we want. Go to McDonalds. Buy the appliance. Splurge on the brand-name ketchup, whatever. But in all, remember. Remember what you do have. When you get aggravated about the sink of dishes to wash, remember. Remember that you have had something to fill your stomach. Be thankful for your six jackets and 10 pairs of shoes as you put them away, for you have something to keep you warm and protect you.

This is not a “let’s make the world a better place” rant. The world is what it is. I wholeheartedly believe in helping people, so do what you can. But in the end … Remember to be thankful.

Tamica Dawn Stewart