As vital as it is, being thankful is tough on the best of days. And it’s not because you aren’t thankful for your life and all your blessings. You just have so much going on that between finishing your paperwork, stopping by to see a church member on your way home, and slugging coffee to get through writing a sermon for the next day, sometimes you just plain forget to take a beat to say, “Thank you God for all that I have.”
With the holidays looming, believe it or not, thankfulness can sometimes take even more of a backseat. Not only do you have your normal stuff to check off the to-do list, but you also need to buy a turkey. The whole family is headed into town, you have services to attend, and man oh man, who’s going to get Aunt Judy from the airport? In the mess and confusion, it can be even easier to forget what’s most important about this time of year. It’s the perfect time to stop, take a breath, and remember what’s important. Here are a few tips to help you keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving.
- Step away for a moment and pray by yourself. You’d be surprised how much a moment with God can turn your frustration over family squabbling into gratefulness that you have a family who is safe and sound.
- When saying grace, remember to think globally. Saying grace often becomes about the food, but remember, in such tumultuous times, there is a lot to pray for and a lot to be thankful for. Use this time with the Lord wisely.
- Stay away from social media. Sure, wishing someone a great holiday is fine, but Facebook provides a multitude of ways to fall down the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to others. If you’re coveting what someone else has or what they’ve done to make their table picture-perfect, your mind is not free to concentrate on gratitude.
- Start a gratitude journal. You don’t have to write in it every day, but writing in a gratitude journal can help you stay in a grateful headspace all the time. Just steal a few moments a week to scribble some notes on your many blessings
- If you can’t quiet your mind, get out and move. Time with the Lord doesn’t have to be spent in moments of stillness. Sometimes walking the neighborhood or taking a short run can jog positive thoughts, which ultimately lead to gratefulness.
- Look hard at even the smallest things. You may look at your life as a whole and forget that it’s comprised of teeny tiny things that work together. Thank the turkey for giving its life for your meal; the corn farmer for harvesting the corn for your yummy side dishes; and the factory workers who sewed your napkins.
- Know that everything doesn’t last forever. You may have a hard time dealing with your kids’ bickering or your parents’ nagging, but one day, things may change in a way that will make you yearn for this moment. Be thankful that you’re getting to experience your family’s insanity now. It won’t always be this way.
- Express gratitude by sharing your blessings. Thankful for the incredible amount of food your family will have over the holidays? Invite a friend or neighbor who may not have all that you do. Donate cans to a can drive. Drop off some lightly used coats at a clothing drive. Just share something with a stranger who may not have the same blessings as you do.
- Say “thank you” to those in thankless positions. Your garbage man. The person who brings your mail. Those who cut your lawn. These are all people who deserve a big “thank you” once in a while. You may be the only person who remembers these important folks this season.
- Remind yourself just how lucky you are. There are a shocking number of families today living in constant fear and danger. You are so blessed; your family is so blessed. In stressful moments, reflect on this. You are safe, you have clean water and your God is so powerful, you’ll always be watched over. How great is that?
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving,”(Colossians 4:2).