Giving thanks during the holiday season

  • Published
  • By Maj. (Chaplain) Patrick Genseal
  • 354th Fighter Wing Chapel
As 2008 draws to a close, we have been, and will be, presented with many opportunities to "give thanks." 

Early last month we watched as our election process ran its course with many giving thanks that their various candidates were victorious. Many more were giving thanks that all the political ads would now cease. We, as a nation, gave thanks that the transfer of power was done once again through ballots rather than bullets. A couple of days later the Iceman Team was giving thanks that the exercise had ended and our leadership was giving us a long weekend to recoup. 

On Veteran's Day our nation paused to give thanks to the men and women in uniform, both past and present, for their sacrifice and devotion to duty. On Thanksgiving we gave thanks for freedom, faith, family, food... and football. 

In a couple of weeks many will gather with an air of anticipation to see just what treasures hide beneath the festive wrapping paper. When the unwrapping is complete, we will once again give thanks for the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver and telephone lines will buzz as calls are made to and from friends and family to express our thanks. A week later we will welcome a New Year with those who are thankful that they have another opportunity to give those resolutions one more try.
As American's, we have a multitude of opportunities to "give thanks." Yet, the question that begs to be asked is, "How do I give thanks?" Is it enough to just say it, or is there some action involved? 

This past Veteran's Day as I was walking through Sears, a gentleman approached me and thanked me for my service. It was a simple gesture on his part but it meant a lot to me, and got me thinking. Here was a person who not only was thankful for what we as military members do, but he took the next step and expressed it. In short, he took his "thanks" and gave it to another. 

How many of us have been at a restaurant when the server informs us that our meal has been paid for by someone who appreciates what we do? Those discounts so many of our community businesses give, are they not a way of saying, "Thanks for your service to our country?"
Giving thanks however, is a two-way street. How do you respond when someone tells you thanks or pays for your meal or gives you a reduction on the price of something because they appreciate what you do? Do you acknowledge them briefly and then continue on with your day? Do you stop and really let what they have just done sink in and appreciate that they took the time and effort to give you their thanks? But let's take this a step further. 

How many times have we expressed our thanks to those around us? 

How many of us have given our thanks to Security Forces for ensuring the safety of our base? How many of us have given our thanks to Chenega for making sure only authorized individuals enter the installation? How about those who cook our food, repair our homes and work centers, keep the snow off the runway and streets, ensure we can get our e-mails, and a host of other activities that we rely on each day? 

As we are in the midst of this season of giving thanks, let me encourage each of you reading this to seek out at least one person each day for the remainder of the year and give them your thanks.