Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are all holidays that I call my absolute favorite. The truth is that they’re all my favorite because they each hold deep meaning for me. As a Christian, Christmas and Easter are pretty obviously connected to my faith, as they celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus. Although Thanksgiving has less of a direct religious connection in that sense, it’s definitely a day that reminds me to be grateful to God for all that He’s given me.
Each Thanksgiving, my house is a place of absolute chaos because my wife and I have four adult children and seven grandkids that will be coming over (and maybe a couple of dogs will come along for the day as well). That is more than enough reason to pause and be grateful! Sure, we have a number of ongoing physical and mental/emotional health issues that some of us deal with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t gather, and it doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate unless everything is 100 percent perfect.
My guess is that your family situation is somewhat similar. You probably have a number of physical, mental, or emotional health issues represented around your table. While dealing with those issues can present an added burden for the people navigating those challenges and may create a strain for others, giving thanks is still in order.
Whether you’re gathered around one table or multiple tables that are separated by physical distance, the ability to gather together and connect (whether it’s in person or virtually) means you have reason to give thanks. Whether you’re religious like me and you give thanks directly to God, or you’re non-religious and you spend the day with a sense of gratitude that isn’t focused in a specific direction, the act of gathering together and the practice of gratitude is a beautiful thing.
I always find that having a day set aside to give thanks is a helpful practice for me. It’s really easy to get so busy that I forget or so frustrated or overwhelmed by my circumstances that I feel like it makes sense to spend my time feeling frustrated, hurt, or shortchanged. It’s great to have a day that guides me to stop, pay attention to all of the good in my life, and give thanks for all of those good things.
If you’ve ever allowed Thanksgiving to be overshadowed by all of the work of preparing food and organizing the logistics of gathering, I hope you’ll give yourself the chance this year to stop and give thanks. Or if you’re going to be working this Thanksgiving or unable to gather with family for some other reason, I hope you won’t allow yourself to get angry and bitter. I hope you’ll choose gratitude for all of the positive and joy-giving things that are part of your life.
The truth is that, for many of us, it’s often easier to focus on the negative than it is the positive. Thanksgiving is a day that invites us all to stop and do the opposite. I hope you’ll join me this year in giving thanks for all of the good in your life!