I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. ~ Psalms 9:1-2 (NIV)
Don’t worry, Thanksgiving Day is still a week away! So why am I writing a Thanksgiving-themed blog now? Well, because I think focusing on being thankful deserves more than a single day. In fact, we should be thankful every day. Most of us are so blessed and it’s easy to forget that in the hubbub of everyday life.
My brother once said that sometimes “it seems as if Thanksgiving is just a speed bump on the road to Christmas.” He doesn’t mean that is how he views it but, rather, our culture seems so driven towards Black Friday and Christmas that we hardly even notice Thanksgiving along the way. And now, many retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving Day itself because we can’t wait even one more day to get our hands on the newest gadgets we simply must have.
One of the truly great things about Thanksgiving is getting the family together for at least one day or one meal. A lot of families are spread out all over the country or overseas and the holiday is a chance to reconvene and reconnect. When you do that this year, let me suggest four things that you can do with your family, friends, neighbors and others around your table this year between football games and turkey legs:
Reflect – Talk with each other about how things are going. Ask each other, “How’s the year so far? Are there any issues that are troubling you? What about successes?”
Doing this will get you past the surface talk that sometimes dominates the Thanksgiving meal and allow you to really talk to each other in a deeper way. What you will find in this exercise is that there have been a lot of blessings during the year. There was a song I sang growing up that said to “count your blessings, name them one by one.” The truth is, it would take me a really long time to do that. And that in itself is a blessing isn’t it?
Encourage – Think of someone in your family or social circle who has had a rough year. If you can’t think of anyone, widen your circle – in today’s economy you won’t have to look far. Then, do something encouraging for them … something that makes their life a little better. This doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Remember, time and a listening ear can be the most treasured gifts we ever give to someone. The Golden Rule may be a good one to focus on if you’re still looking for ideas. Give them a call and really listen. Put them on your prayer list and pray daily for them.
Share – Do something generous. We can all find someone that is worse off than we are. Do you have anything you really don’t need or can go without this month so you can totally bless someone? Or, how about inviting someone over to share the Thanksgiving Day festivities with your family … food, football, fellowship … all of it? Again, your idea here doesn’t have to be gigantic. Just reach out … and make a difference because, after all, giving IS better than receiving, isn’t it?
Practice – Take these ideas with you into the coming holiday months and the New Year. In other words, don’t wait until next Thanksgiving to do thankful things. Commit to leading a thankful life as a big part of who you are and the way you live. They say “practice makes perfect,” so why not be perfect at giving thanks? I can think of worse things to be perfect at. And remember, as soon as “Keeping up with the Joneses” gets in your way of giving thanks, ask yourself, Who Are the Joneses Anyway?
Here’s wishing you the best season of giving thanks ever.