“It’s not faiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrr…” I hear for the 47th time today. And my children have just been home from school for 16 minutes.
How? How have my children become scorekeepers? Measuring their opportunities and options against the other’s? This wasn’t taught to them… This wasn’t modeled. We don’t parse out blessings, or weigh one’s joys against another’s to make sure the scale is agonizingly equal.
But here we are. Stuck in a mindset where one’s blessing is another’s offense. And I realize. Perhaps we didn’t teach an attitude of entitlement but I can teach gratitude.
As the years go by, November is quickly becoming my favorite month. Thanksgiving my favorite season. I just love the concept of a holiday devoted to gratitude. To a season given to thankfulness and counting of blessings. What an amazing reset before the frenzied consumerism that has become the American Christmas. What a wonderful reminder of the importance of Advent.
I have become a collector if you will, of ways to celebrate gratitude. Of opportunities for people in all stages of life to practice a month of Thankfulness leading up to Thanksgiving. It has made a big difference in my life, and I am grateful to be able to share them with you!
1000 Gifts- Have you ever read a book that makes an impact on your life far beyond the words on the page? For me, one of those books was 1000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I loved this spiritual memoir of a life’s journey from bitterness to gratitude.
Other wonderful reads that have taught me about gratitude: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, The Joyful Christian by C.S. Lewis
Thankfulness Jar- Every year on November 1st, our family places an empty mason jar, and a small vase filled with slips of paper on our kitchen table. Each night at dinner all of use write down something we are thankful for on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. It is a great way to teach your children to be aware of blessings, and to train yourself in that mindset! WARNING- you may need to invest in a bigger jar! We had to upgrade last year- twice!
Friendsgiving- Oftentimes Thanksgiving day itself gets consumed by the pressures of the meal and the stress that inevitably come with a big family gathering. Yes, by all means still have Thanksgiving dinner! But, what if you invite some family friends over to a smaller dinner some other time this month, with the thought to simply break bread together, and be thankful for God’s gifts of hospitality, of friendship? Or invite several friends over, potluck style- people who may not have families, or may not be able to travel home to family for Thanksgiving this year? That would be a great way to model Biblical hospitality, and a chance to recapture the THANKFULNESS of Thanksgiving in a busy holiday season.
Thanksgiving Cards- Christmas Cards are a long-established tradition. But imagine if this year, each day in the month of November, you wrote a hand written letter to someone who blessed you in 2017. Imagine what a blessing that would be, both to the recipient of the letter, but also to you, to spend a month immersed in reflecting upon the blessings given to you by your friends and neighbors this year?
Set the Table with Thanks- Every year for November, I bring out one of my favorite table accessories my fall table runner. And my gold paint pen. And whenever we have guests over to eat, I ask everyone to write one thing they are thankful for on the runner as we break bread together. I can’t wait for the day when my runner is filled up with blessings! What an amazing witness to God’s faithfulness over the years! In my mind, it would be so fun to see a grandmother’s white tablecloth, scribbled with blessings, a family heirloom brought out every year on THanksgiving. A beloved family tradition.
Think of Who is Missing- As you prepare for THanksgiving dinner this year, ask yourself if there is room for one more. Is there someone you know (or don’t know that well) that you could invite to join you? We are called to be salt and light, and to befriend the alien, the outcast, and the widow. What better way to celebrate gratitude than to make room for everyone at the table?