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THANKSGIVING GROUCH – written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:        being thankful in all things
SCRIPTURE:    Lev.22:29; Ps.9:1; Eph.5:3-5, 19-21;
.             Phil.4:5-7; Col.3:14-17;
.             1Thess.5:17-19; 1Tim.1:12, 2:1-3
Style:        satire/conversation:  a grouch
.             goes through a gambit of situations,
.             then is told to rewind that portion
.             and try again with a thankful attitude
Cast:         GROUCH, FRIEND, SURVEY TAKER, CHRISTIAN,
.             COLLECTOR, ORGANIZER
Set & Props:  clipboard, pen, collection pail

SCRIPT:

(GROUCH enters, followed by FRIEND who observes as
GROUCH walks along and interacts with various people.
GROUCH first encounters GOVERNMENT SURVEY TAKER.)

SURVEYOR    Excuse me - a moment of your time?
.           I’m taking a survey of the government’s
.           effectiveness-

GROUCH      Say no more!  The government is ineffective!

SURVEYOR    But- there are several questions-

GROUCH      And for every one of them– the answer will be
.           exactly the same.  The current government
.           is completely ineffective and incompetent.
.           I do not support or respect anything they do.

SURVEYOR    Anything?

GROUCH      That is what I said and that is what
.           I believe.  I do not even want to speak
.           to you anymore because the government
.           just does not listen.

SURVEYOR    The survey is being taken so they can listen-

GROUCH      (to FRIEND)  Unbelievable!  Our country
.           is going downhill because of them!

FRIEND      And I suppose it would have nothing         2
.           to do with negative citizens?

(GROUCH encounters CHRISTIAN who is very polite.)

CHRISTIAN   Have you heard the good news of what
.           God has done for you?-

GROUCH      Yes! And I’m ALREADY a Christian.  Why don’t
.           you go bother someone else?  And, you know,
.           I don’t exactly agree with your approach.
.           I’ve never known street witnessing to be
.           effective or a good use of time.

CHRISTIAN   It DOES reach some people.  I’m such
.           an example.  I mean, I became a Christian
.           because someone took the time-

GROUCH      I really don’t care- because I do NOT have
.           that kind of time.  I’ve got things to do.
.           You know – you should just- KNOW- to leave
.           people like me- alone!

CHRISTIAN   Yes, sorry to have bothered you.

GROUCH      You should be.  You really misrepresent
.           the majority of all Christians.

CHRISTIAN   Again, so sorry.

GROUCH      (to FRIEND)  I mean really!  I just
.           do NOT have time for this.

FRIEND      Yet you took the time to complain about it.
.           And just how are you representing?-

GROUCH      I’m just making a point.

(GROUCH encounters SALVATION ARMY COLLECTOR.)

COLLECTOR   Something for the poor?

GROUCH      I AM the poor!

COLLECTOR   Oh... sorry, well- in that case-
.           you can go over there-

GROUCH      I’m not THAT poor!  I do not need charity!  3
.           Does it look like I need charity?
.           The poor should be out working-

COLLECTOR   Many are very sick.  And a lot of them
.           have no choice and are unable to work.  
.           And for those able, who ARE trying to turn
.           things around, we provide resources to help
.           find work- and get them back on their feet-

GROUCH      Okay-okay, here, anything to get you off
.           my back.

(GROUCH throws in a coin.)

COLLECTOR   You- don’t have to if you do not want-

GROUCH      No-no- I’d look selfish if I didn’t.
.           I just wish people would be held to some
.           level of accountability-

COLLECTOR   Yes, the organization has that in place-

GROUCH      Well, if everyone would just be responsible,
.           we would not have this issue, would we?

COLLECTOR   Yes sir (ma’am).

GROUCH      (to FRIEND)  Why am I expected to be
.           responsible for the incompetent?

FRIEND      You say that like if you’re the victim.

(GROUCH encounters CHURCH ORGANIZER.)

ORGANIZER   Hi, (name).  How are you?

GROUCH      It could definitely be better.

ORGANIZER   Well, I was hoping to run into you at church-

GROUCH      Why?  I always try to get out of there
.           as fast as I can.  Standing around and
.           chatting is such a waste of time.

ORGANIZER   Ah, well, I’ll try to make this quick then.
.           We are looking for volunteers to-
.                                                       4
GROUCH      And volunteering for things is
.           an even bigger waste of time.

ORGANIZER   But this is for an outreach event
.           for the children in the neighborhood-

GROUCH      Those little ruffians need some church!

ORGANIZER   Ah, exactly, they need to hear that there
.           is love and hope- so– we need people to help-

GROUCH      But we’re just wasting our time with that.

ORGANIZER   Well then, have a good week.

GROUCH      (sarcastically to FRIEND)  Have a good week?
.           Can you believe that?  Like, whatever
.           they do with that outreach program
.           is going to be a complete waste of time.

FRIEND      You don’t trust that God can work
.           in the lives of people?  Maybe it’s
.           because you don’t trust God to help
.           change your own attitude.

GROUCH      I am what I am!

FRIEND      Are you sure you’re a Christian?

GROUCH      Of course I’m a Christian!  How can you
.           even ask me that?  You’ve known me for years.

FRIEND      Exactly.  And in all of those years,
.           I’ve known you to be a complainer.
.           You’re never thankful for anything.

GROUCH      I’m thankful for some things.

FRIEND      We’re told to be thankful in EVERYTHING!
.           We are to be thankful for our government.
.           We’re to be thankful for fellow Christians,
.           and for the service that they do.  We should
.           be thankful when we have an opportunity
.           to serve others in the community as well as
.           in the church. And most importantly we should
.           be thankful for everything that God has done!
.                                                       5
GROUCH      Ah, thank you, but I do not need a lecture
.           from you!

(GROUCH turns around to walk in the other direction.
As GROUCH walks and encounters ORGANIZER, COLLECTOR,
CHRISTIAN, and SURVEYOR, they all politely but
very quickly nod and get out of GROUCH’S way.
GROUCH balks and wonders at this, then looks behind
at FRIEND who is keeping at a distance.)

GROUCH      That’s so rude!  What’s up with them?
.           What’s up with you?

FRIEND      Ah, well ah, you’re not the most pleasant
.           to be around.  If you’re not thankful,
.           then your attitude will be – well –
.           something totally opposite.

GROUCH      I thought the key word was “love.”

FRIEND      I’m pretty sure that love and thankfulness
.           are connected.

GROUCH      Look, I AM thankful.  Every Thanksgiving,
.           I take a moment and list off the things
.           that make my life better.

FRIEND      I’m sure that if you could do all this
.           all over again but with a thankful attitude,
.           not only would people NOT run away from you,
.           but you’d probably have a much better time
.           and attitude toward life in general.

GROUCH      Really?!

(GROUCH turns around and encounters SURVEY TAKER.)

SURVEYOR    Excuse me - a moment of your time?
.           I’m taking a survey of the government’s-
.           Ohhhhh! It’s you again!

GROUCH      Ahhhhh...

(As GROUCH rolls eyes and catches FRIEND’S beseeching
expression, GROUCH begins to think through the response,
then looks up to pray.)
.                                                       6
GROUCH      Okay, Lord God, help me with this! I’m
.           counting on You to change my attitude, here.
.           Ah, and THANK YOU - that You are faithful,
.           and care enough to WANT to help us.
.           (nods and looks back to SURVEYOR)
.           I’m sorry.  Ah, you know, if you don’t mind,
.           I would like to do the survey.

SURVEYOR    Really?

GROUCH      Of course.  I know the government has done
.           some things right, and- maybe if I did
.           my part, this would help change a few things.
.           I do appreciate the government trying
.           to look out for its citizens.

(GROUCH and SURVEYOR mime going through the survey
while FRIEND stands by, a little amazed by this.
GROUCH finally steps back, shaking SURVEYOR’S hand.)

GROUCH      Thank you for taking the time to hear me out.

(GROUCH encounters CHRISTIAN.)

CHRISTIAN   Have you heard- sorry- I remember-

GROUCH      Well, I just want to apologize for before,
.           and say that it is nice to see someone
.           who cares so much for the lost.  It may not
.           be my approach, but you’re willing to
.           put yourself out there and reach out
.           to someone who might be struggling.
.           It’s encouraging to see, and- even-
.           inspires me to do something.

(FRIEND balks as GROUCH shakes hands with CHRISTIAN
then encounters SALVATION ARMY COLLECTOR.)

COLLECTOR   Something for the-
.           (looks to FRIEND) -poor?

(FRIEND adds something to the collection pail.
GROUCH then decides to add a bill.)

COLLECTOR   Thank you?

GROUCH      Thank YOU.  I realize you’re doing a        7
.           great service to the community.  Any little
.           bit helps.  We – all – make mistakes or
.           find ourselves in need.  Who am I to judge?

(FRIEND mouths “wow!”  Moving on, GROUCH encounters
CHURCH ORGANIZER.)

ORGANIZER   Hi - again, (name).  

GROUCH      Hi, (name).  How are you doing?

ORGANIZER   (skeptical)  Good.

GROUCH      Listen, I’ve been thinking...
.           That outreach event sounds like a great idea.
.           I want to thank you for all your work
.           in organizing that.  And just- let me know
.           how I can help.  In fact, I have
.           a few ideas about making it a monthly,
.           or even a weekly thing.  I remember
.           when I was a kid, there were people
.           who gave of their time and efforts
.           to show me they cared- and it really did
.           make a difference in my life!

ORGANIZER   Maybe we can get together over coffee
.           and go over those ideas.

GROUCH      Sounds great.  I’ll wait for your call.

(As ORGANIZER moves on, FRIEND stares at GROUCH
with mouth hanging open.)

GROUCH      I... have to thank you for being such
.           a good friend.  I mean, a really good friend.
.           You’ve been more than patient – and –
.           you had the guts to challenge me
.           when it was needed.

FRIEND      Heyyy-

GROUCH      You’re right.  Being thankful is a necessary
.           key to having a loving and positive attitude!

(GROUCH and FRIEND exit.)