Can We Get a Refund?

Hey America, I’ve been looking around at all the wonderful days of celebration you have on offer and I’m wondering if we can get a refund. It seems we bought the wrong day.

I’m fine if you have a ‘no refund’ policy. A straight exchange will work just as well.

It seems that here in Australia we’ve bought into the whole Halloween thing you were selling. Yep, I know it didn’t originate with you, but we seem to have bought your version of the day anyway.

Every year in October our supermarket shelves are filled with more and more skeletons, pumpkins, ghouls and ghosts. We’ve bought the whole package from you and every year we see more and more children wandering the streets begging for ‘candy from strangers’, a thing we advise against for the other 364 days of the year.

I know that Halloween is often dressed up as simply a day for dressing up, but I think I’ll pass.

So, back to the whole refund thing, or as I say, perhaps a direct swap.

If we give Halloween back, can we have Thanksgiving?

Again, I know it’s not necessarily an exclusively American thing, but from my long-distance perspective, you seem to do Thanksgiving pretty well.

We have so much to cause us to be thankful in Australia, and while I would love to see a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude all year round, a day dedicated to counting our blessings would be a very good addition to our calendar.

There’s been some excellent work done around a National Day of Thanks down under but unfortunately, it hasn’t gained the widespread acceptance and celebration it deserves.

While I don’t quite get the whole turkey pardoning thing (I don’t even know what the turkey did to need pardoning) I do like the idea of being thankful to God for His blessings to us. I also like the idea of sharing that thankfulness among family and friends around a meal.

Being thankful seems to have so much going for it.

In a world that presses us to want and strive after more and more, pretending that it will eventually bring us some kind of happiness, it’s helpful to look at our lives and see what we already have.

On days when I’m low, a quick reminder of just how good I’ve got it will often get me through. I’m not saying it’s the answer to everything that troubles us but thankfulness or gratitude can have proven, very real, physical benefits.

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practising gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating over them (a hallmark of depression). – Psychology Today

The simple act of being thankful and expressing thankfulness can make a real difference in our lives.

Studies show gratitude helps us build stronger immune systems, causes us to be less bothered by aches and pains, lowers our blood pressure, gives us higher levels of positive emotions, makes us more alert, alive, and awake. There are many more benefits including making us more helpful, generous, and compassionate, more forgiving, less lonely and isolated. What’s not to like?

So, maybe we won’t grab every aspect of an American Thanksgiving, but can we pinch the general concept from you?

I would be incredibly thankful if we could see our nation recognising what we have rather than what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean blindly ignoring important issues that need our voice and attention but ensuring that we also give our voice to gratitude and thankfulness.

So what do you say, America?

Do you think we can do a deal? If we try to find the box it came in, can we return Halloween for a great big box of Thanksgiving?


And no matter where you are in the world, I’d love to hear why you’re thankful today? Do yourself and your health a real favour by practising thankfulness and gratitude right now. Leave a comment on this post with some of the things that make you thankful.



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What am I going to do with a goat?

(This is an updated post from previous years.) If you’ve been to a shopping centre recently or watched any television, you’ll know that Christmas is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of businesses that are keen to ‘help you celebrate’ with their products. While the big day is still just under a couple of months away, we know that it all starts to ramp up from here.

Once again, I’m conflicted. If I’m honest, I don’t really need anything for Christmas. If no one bought me a gift for Christmas or any other occasion, I could survive. In fact not just survive but continue to thrive.

The conflict comes from the fact that I still enjoy receiving gifts. I love the unwrapping and the excitement of having something shiny and new. I also love the fact that people care enough to choose something for me.

It concerns me that while I’m enjoying lovely new things that I don’t really need, there are people in many parts of the world that don’t have the basics that they need to get on with the daily task of just keeping their families alive.

If Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, surely we should be doing something that honours him and his heart for the poor, rather than overindulging while most of the world goes without.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we should all be miserable and not fully enter into the celebrations at this time of year.

Balance

I suppose that’s where we all need some kind of balance between the giving and receiving of gifts between friends and loved ones and our wider responsibility to those in need around the world. We live in a global village but most of the villagers are missing out.

Those of us who’ve been blessed by simply being born in the right place should spare a thought for those who only ask for the gift of life this Christmas.

I might not have a lot of use for a goat but for a rural family in a developing country, the simple gift of a goat could be just what they need to break free from poverty.

Compassion

So where do you buy a goat and how do you get it to someone who needs it? Compassion Australia’s Gifts of Compassion is open and ready for business. Their gifts help people who are battling desperate poverty.

They can take your money and turn it into a very real solution to poverty. You can buy everything from mosquito nets to a toilet block with lots more in between including chickens, cows, toothbrushes and baby vaccinations.

Your support really does make a difference.

I’ve visited churches partnering with Compassion in seven of the 25 countries where they’re working and I can personally vouch for the work they do. When you support those in poverty through Compassion, the aid really does make it to those who need it.

In fact, it was after seeing the work of Compassion that I decided that I would do all I could to advance their work which is why I’ve now been working full-time for Compassion for the last six years.

This Christmas I do want to receive something for myself, wrapped in thought and love, but I also hope that someone will give me a goat or a chicken or a health bundle for someone I’ll never meet.

What about you?

Go on … you’ve thought about it before but unless you let your loved ones know now it’ll never happen. Ask those you love to buy something for someone else this Christmas.



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Loving the Philippines

It’s been a little quiet around here lately so I thought I’d add a few short videos from my visit to the Philippines in September.

I was there seeing the work of Compassion, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

You can click play on the three videos below.




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