Sight Words and Thanksgiving

I was sitting in the bedroom I shared with my older sister when I was 6. Our family didn’t have a lot of “things” when I was a kid, but there were 4 kids, with endless imaginations.

We played all kinds of games. My favorite was playing house – but when we played, we lived in a mansion – and I always wanted to play the maid or the cook. We can talk about the deep psychological hypothesis you have just made about my personality later.

We were playing “sick kids go to the doctor.” Kids games always have the most creative names . . . Just the other day, I asked my kids what game they were playing, and Ryder replied, “PEOPLES, but I’m the brother and she is the sister and you are the mom.” Proud. I am so proud. The creativity.

So, we are playing “sick kids go to the doctor” and my sister takes a hammer to my knee. Even my 6-year-old self knew this was an odd medical practice with great potential for pain. She explained to me she was checking my reflexes. And, that when someone checks your reflexes, your leg will kick up.

So, she checked my reflexes and my leg kicked up.

Her technique was surely flawed, as evidenced by my bruised knee. I’m certain my 11 yr old sister didn’t know the right way to tap my knee to produce the neurological response . . . but my leg kicked up.

Did it matter if it was real? I thought it was. She thought it was. SIDE NOTE: I’ve never actually had a doctor check my reflexes like that . . . I could be broken . . . I am likely broken . . .

This year, Ryder is learning to read. Kindergarten is pretty intense stuff. He has a list of 30 sight words to learn by the end of the year. He knows about 10. His favorite is THE, T-H-E. He notices it everywhere. In the middle of words, on signs, in books. THE. T-H-E. He sees it, he says it. It’s how we learn.

Sight words have become a reflex for him. Is he reading them? Well, he is starting to, but he doesn’t have NEARLY enough context to understand what makes up words, let alone sentences.

I remember the day when both Jayne and Ryder first said “please.” I felt so proud that I had such well mannered toddlers. Then, they learned to say “thank you.” It amazed me how quickly they picked up the proper time to thank someone. Please and thank you. Manners. Reflexes.

When someone taps your knee, your leg kicks up. When you see T-H-E, you say “the.” When someone gives you something you asked for, you say, “thank you.”

At some point, we understand more about words and letters and connections and the sight words gain context they didn’t have at first. Then, we know how to read. But, knowing how to read is not the same as reading to know. One is passive. The other is active and responsive. 

Knowing the proper time to respond with “thank you” does not mean you are thankful.

Thanksgiving is many things. One of the most profound is this: Thanksgiving is deepened with context.

When life has been hard and the story doesn’t seem to be heading where we planned, we realize the plenty was always just a distraction.

We can be thankful for the abundance we have in this country compared to developing nations, or that we are home with our families while others are fighting wars, or that we get to stay in our homes while others are forced half a world away just to survive. We should be thankful for those things – we don’t deserve all the good we have, no matter how hard we work.

BUT, knowing what we are thankful for is different than thanksgiving. One is passive, the other is active – and responsive.

Thanksgiving is deepened with context. What is the context of my Thanksgiving?

Is it my stuff? Is it the provision for my family? Is it the country I was born into? Is it the little ginger crazies who call me Mom?

I don’t know the answer for you, but I’m pretty sure figuring that out produces true Thanksgiving.

For me – I think it’s hope: 
I know that no matter what storm I face, God is faithful.
I know that no matter how far I run, God is near.
I know that no matter how much I fake, God is real.
I know that no matter how hard I try I can never protect those I love as well as God can.
And, I know that there is nothing I could ever do to make that God stop loving me, stop chasing me, or stop changing me – when I let him in.

This is me learning the context of Thanksgiving – so I can be active – and responsive.

All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NLT)


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