Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2003 / 1 Kislev, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Hardship? We don't know the meaning | We're soft, you know, at least by ye olde Pilgrim standards. We're Cool Whip soft. Foam on the top of a latte soft. Upper arm flab soft.

Each year as Thanksgiving rounds the bend, I am reminded that my thankfulness is several shades lighter than the Pilgrims'. Without constant calibration, my thanksgiving tends to be on the wimpy side. Too much fat and not enough lean.

My thankfulness is often based on the creature comforts around me. Yes, I am thankful for ample food and a house with heat. It doesn't take much depth to come up with a list like that.

Truthfully, there are times when the list qualifies as cushy. I'm thankful tennis shoes were on sale last week. I am thankful for the "Do-Not-Call" telemarketer list, and I am thankful my son got a hair cut.

Somehow, I doubt those type of things were high on the Pilgrims' list of thanks.

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I'm not alone here. Every Thanksgiving, news reporters survey kids asking what they're thankful for. Inevitably one of them will say, "Play Station 2, my soccer ball and my dog."

Sure, we give thanks, but there's often a direct correlation between our thankfulness and our comfort. We do a fine Norman Rockwell when the kids are healthy, the house sparkles and the stock market jumps. We bubble with thanks when life is to our liking. When life isn't so good - a kid pushes the envelope, the job stinks, the house needs a new roof - we tend to be tight-lipped.

The Pilgrims' heart of thanks was remarkable in that it was not dependent on circumstances. The Pilgrims were thankful in spite of their circumstances. Their Thanksgiving feast followed a brutal winter that cut a wide swath of hunger, deprivation and death.

I let a bout with the flu or a common cold send me into a tail spin. I wonder how I would respond if, like the Pilgrims, many of my loved ones were suddenly gone? Would I still believe the goodness of G-d outweighs every trouble and trial?

In the biting cold of 1777, General George Washington stopped his worn and weary troops near Valley Forge to give thanks to G-d.

I pat myself on the back for reading Scripture a few times a week with a cup of hot tea in my hands. I wonder how I'd feel about bowing for prayer if I was like Washington's men - ill-fed, ill-clothed, beaten down and nearly freezing to death?

In the midst of the bloodiest war to ever divide this nation, President Abraham Lincoln paused to issue a proclamation of Thanksgiving. President Lincoln asked G-d to "heal the wounds of the nation" and to restore the country to the "full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and Union."

If the security and liberty of this country were threatened by enemies in, oh, say some sort of war with terror, would I simply scan the headlines and watch the news? Or would I earnestly pray for peace and resolution?

We could use more Pilgrim fortitude today - unfaltering hearts that beat with the pulse of praise. We could use an infusion of Pilgrim spirit focused on the trustworthiness of the Creator. We could use an attitude of thanks that sees beyond tennis shoes and Play Stations to the blessings of faith, hope and love, and the gift of family and friends.

My prayer this Thanksgiving season is that I would not be soft, but that I would gain the solid substance of a Pilgrim's heart.

I'll still eat Cool Whip. I just don't want to be Cool Whip.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman