Stream Splashes: November 24-30 in Review

By The Stream Published on December 1, 2019

Every week, The Stream rounds up some highlights from the recent news. We call these our “splashes”: everything from insightful commentary on the week’s big events to small inspiring stories you may have missed.

 

Peter Rowden
Peter Rowden

A Refugee Thanksgiving

This time last year I had my first Thanksgiving Day outside of America. I was working for a ministry serving refugees in Athens, Greece, and it was a unique experience. We had chicken in place of turkey, and a can of pumpkin from America saved for a year for the occasion. Even beyond that, though, celebrating the holiday among refugees gave me a different perspective on what Thanksgiving means.

The obvious point to dwell on would be how much we Americans have to be thankful for, compared with so many suffering people throughout the world. It’s useful to keep in mind how little we have to whine about.

But thanksgiving born out of guilt isn’t usually the most thankful kind. And dwelling solely on that truth would mean missing a far more important one.

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I have to admit I’ve always had a problem with patriotism. I’m not a joiner. If there’s a bandwagon I won’t jump on it. If there’s a crowd I’ll head the other way. If there’s a club, a political party or a sports team I’m always on the outside looking in. Maybe that’s why I’m suspicious of patriotism.

But true and proper patriotism is expressed in the family around the table with the turkey and all the trimmings. There love of family, love of faith and love of country come together in a feast of gratitude to God.

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By and large, we are a discontented people living in a land of bounty. We pine for the latest technology gadget. We use social media to measure our blessings — our homes, vacations, children, haircuts — against those of others. When we come up short, we’re tempted to feel that we’ve been cheated.

Of course, this fallen world also provides plenty of real reasons to be anxious, angry or sad. And yet … if you are reading this column right now, you also have plenty of reasons to be grateful, no matter what your circumstances. Let me give you just five.

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