I love all the old Charlie Brown cartoons. Despite the fact that they are obviously outdated and painfully inferior to the animated graphics of today, there are always moral lessons to be learned.
In the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoon, we are reminded to make sure that we approach Thanksgiving with our hearts, and not just with our words. Peppermint Patti, Charlie Browns tom-boyish friend and wanna-be girlfriend, shows us what TO DO, and what NOT TO DO, during this special holiday.
You see, Peppermint Patti, upon sitting down at their Thanksgiving meal, brought up the subject of prayer, or saying grace, before they began eating. Her reason for praying was because “its thanksgiving, you know.” In other words, “we are supposed to be thankful on Thanksgiving, so let’s say a prayer of thanks.” She had head knowledge of thankfulness, but not heart knowledge.
Here is a little clip of Peppermint Patti initiating the prayer, and the incredible prayer of Linus that followed:
This is an example of what TO DO: Pray and give thanks for everything.
Saying ‘grace’ before we eat is something we should all do, not only at Thanksgiving, but every meal of every day of every year. Yet often we neglect to do so because we are busy and pressed for time; we simply forget; or we just fail to see its importance.
In fact, even at Thanksgiving – the primary day of the year for giving thanks to God in prayer – we can easily dive into the holiday and all the yummy food, and forget to give thanks to the One who provided all that we enjoy. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks from the heart, for food, but also for everything that God has provided.
Although Peppermint Patti gets a gold star for iniating the call to prayer, her actions that followed left a lot to be desired. Take a look at this quick clip, proving that Patti’s heart was not in tune with her words:
This is an example of what NOT TO DO: Pray because you think it is expected, but then forget to actually be thankful.
Based on Patti’s actions, it appears that although her mind thought that praying was the “right” thing to do, her heart did not embrace true thankfulness, which resulted in her not acting the “right” way towards others.
You see, when her expectations of the holiday did not match up with her reality, Patti got upset. She got irritated. She began to verbally express her dissatisfaction. She was annoyed at the guest (Snoopy) at her table. She was agitated that the food did not meet her traditional requirements. She complained and yelled.
She quickly forgot all about the prayer of thankfulness as she focused on her surroundings and her perceived shortcomings in their celebration. Her mind was distracted from prayer and thanksgiving, whem she became focused on people and circumstances.
Unfortunately this scene is all too familiar in households across the country. We want Thanksgiving to look like glamorized holiday commercials, but our reality may not match up to our expectation.
It is rare that families sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner table…..with perfect white tablecloths, exquisite China and matching lacy napkins…..glistening, brown turkeys that are perfectly cooked…. twelve elegant side dishes… and a buffet of desserts that look like Paula Deen stopped by.
Rarely do families get through Thanksgiving dinner…..with children who exhibit pristine manners…. with babies who do not cry and hold off on bowel movements… with siblings who dont argue… with spouses who dont quarrel…. with drinks that are not spilled….with extended family who actually agree on which ballgame to watch or when to cut the pumpkin pie… with perfection in every way.
When emotions are high and expectations are unmet, we can immediately morph into a Peppermint Patti if we are not careful – a person who gives thanks with their mouths, but not with their hearts and actions.
I want to leave you with two challenges as you wake up on Thanksgiving morning this year:
(1) Commit to prayer. Not just before you eat, but all day long, thanking God for all the things that you are blessed with, big and small. Take nothing for granted and pray from the heart.
(2) Commit to carry that mindset of prayer thoughout the day as your foundation for unshakable gratitude. When the day does not go exactly as desired, focus on exhibiting a heart of love, in all situations — even if popcorn is the main side dish. Smiles.
Thanksgiving is not a holiday, but a holy attitude.