Showing thanks

I got Super Nintendo one year for Christmas.

Technically it was from “Santa,” but I was at the age where I kind of knew who’d really purchased it for me. (If you don’t get where I’m going with this, I’m sorry, but I shall not further explain and play the spoiler role with regards your holiday beliefs.)

Naturally I spent much of Christmas morning playing ‘Super Mario World,’ still one of the best games ever, and my dad spent much of his morning watching me. He didn’t ask to play, he just sat there watching and seemed really happy to do so.

When we’re young, it’s hard to really understand how much joy is associated with giving gifts, rather than receiving them. But as we get older, typically that joy sets in and often becomes the best part of exchanging gifts.

Of course, one of the best parts about giving someone a gift is getting to see them enjoy it. This is why your grandma has made you try on every single piece of clothing she’s ever purchased you. And regardless how awkward those sweaters fit, you likely went ahead and modeled them because you realized that was a big part of you showing her your appreciation.

Today in America we’re celebrating a group of people who’ve given us all a gift far more valuable than my Super Nintendo or your sweater.

We’re celebrating the men and women who paid the ultimate price, exchanging their lives in order to give us the gift of freedom.

The Bible tells us there’s no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for a friend.

But so many of these people laid their lives down for me and I don’t even know their names, nor did they know mine. They paid the highest of prices to give a stranger one of the most valuable gifts imaginable.

That’s such a daunting thought for me to wrap my mind around, but it’s a reality. It honestly makes me feel called to action, as if I need to find someway to repay those folks.

But I can’t do that. There’s no way I could ever fully repay them, and truth be told, most of them probably wouldn’t accept it if I could. That’s just not how gifts work.

Of course just because I won’t ever be able to repay them, doesn’t mean I’m absent the responsibility of some action.

So, I think the best thing I can do is make sure each day I’m putting that gift to good use. To make sure each day I’m taking full advantage of the freedom I have and using it in some way to make the world a better place.

Now I can’t tell you exactly what that looks like for you, but I’d say being an engaged, active citizen and taking advantage of the opportunities our freedom allows us to help our fellow citizens is a good place to start.

Perhaps the specifics of what we do are less important than the fact that we are actually do something because anytime someone gives you a gift, you can chose to either use it or abuse it by letting it go to waste.

For me, part of Memorial Day is making sure I’m not wasting the gift those men and women gave, and continue to give, their lives to bless me with.

I need say thank you with my words, but also need to make sure I’m communicating thank you with how I live.



About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
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