Thanksgiving was last week. It is a time that many people decide to take the time to iterate what they’re thankful for. Some people even expand this celebration beyond just the holiday and list out what they are thankful for throughout the entire month of November.
I think expressing what we are thankful for is a good exercise. It is just so easy to forget to be thankful. It may be a joke, but I’m afraid there is some reality in the clash between Thanksgiving and what we call Black Friday and even what we’ve turned the Christmas season into.
It’s not that I’m anti buying people gifts or anything like that. It is just that we can get caught up in the lie that if we just received or gave the right gift that either us or the person we gave it to would be happy. That true thankfulness comes from getting more stuff. I like getting stuff and truth be told I do like buying presents for others as well, but more stuff doesn’t typically make me happier in the long term.
So as we frantically get ready for Christmas, what becomes of our thankfulness? Do we still have it? Are we still able to be thankful or does that thankfulness evaporate on Black Friday or when the calendar turns to December? Even if it does last until Christmas, what about the other 10 months of the year?
I say all this not because I’m an expert on thankfulness, but because I struggle myself in being thankful as much as I probably should be. I see this when our kids pray. Most of our dinner prayer is about being thankful for things, and our kids will sometimes be very thorough on thanking God for napkins, plates, milk, bibs, and you probably get the idea.
Now it’s cute and the truth is we should be thankful for such things, but I sometimes find myself getting impatient as they go through this litany of thanksgiving. I think to myself “Yes, yes, we know to be thankful for that let’s just be done.” I take for granted so many things, and can find it silly to give thanks for those things.
I also understand that life can be difficult at times. We may be facing financial difficulties, relationship issues, health problems, death of loved ones, or some combination of these things. It can be hard to be thankful in the midst of such times.
This Thanksgiving we’ve had to deal with the loss of my Grandmother and since she was such a large part of my family, it has been hard not to focus on that loss. Yet, part of the reason for it being difficult is all of the enjoyable memories of her that we have. I am thankful for those memories even if losing her means that no more will be made with her and that there will be a large hole in our family as we move forward.
No matter how large of an impact that this loss has had on me personally and on my family, time doesn’t stop in that moment. There is still much to be thankful for even in the midst of the tragedy. This doesn’t mean that one is never allowed to be sad or that we have to pretend that our lives are completely put together and nothing is wrong at all.
My thoughts behind writing this is just that I hope I’m able to remember to be thankful beyond just the Thanksgiving season. There is a lot to be thankful for in our lives. It is so easy to take things for granted and to look to what we don’t have at that moment as what we need to be content and thankful. Throw in the difficulties of life that try to drown out thankfulness and contentedness and it is a never ending struggle.
I guess I just want to remember to be thankful for napkins, milk, and spoons. To have the same thankfulness that our kids do, at least at times. I think I need to cultivate that more than just one day or one month a year. I have a feeling I’m probably not the only one.