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Bigger on the inside

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- While making the rounds at a local fair a man encountered a little girl carrying a huge mass of cotton candy on a paper cone. He asked, "How can a little girl like you eat all of that cotton candy?"

"Well, you see, mister," the little girl answered, "I'm really bigger on the inside than I am on the outside."

As we approach Thanksgiving I wonder how many of us are bigger on the inside than we are on the outside. I'm not talking about filling your Thanksgiving with traditional foods, but rather your capacity to show your thankfulness through genuine acts of kindness. Being thankful means being bigger on the inside, through helpful acts of love and kindness, than to simply say thanks on the outside.

Sometimes we're like the young woman who decided she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others, especially those in serious trouble. Her plan included receiving first aid training from a Red Cross course.

Shortly after completion of her training she was called upon to respond to a serious accident near her volunteer center. The next day she was telling friends about her experience. "There I was," she said, "it was awful. I saw all those people with broken arms, cuts and bruises. They were moaning and groaning. For an instant I didn't know what to do. Then suddenly I remembered what they taught me in that first aid course. I sat right down on the curb, put my head between my knees, and I never fainted."

Her response could be called 'putting training to good use,' but not the best use. When we look at the scope of the world's ills we may want to do the same thing. We may feel like putting our head between our knees just to keep from fainting.

The first American Thanksgiving didn't occur in 1621 when a group of Pilgrims shared a feast with a group of neighboring Indians. The first recorded thanksgiving took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn't a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how help might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.

"When help arrived" is the best part of that story. Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder that we are blessed, but blessings were never meant to be hoarded; they are meant to be shared. Often, we're the ones to bring the help that is needed.

When you consider Thanksgiving this year, please note the word itself is comprised of two words: "thanks" and "giving." Will there be giving in your thanks this year? Are you bigger on the inside than you are on the outside?