Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Preparing for Thanksgiving: The Challenge

If you were to ask the average man-on-the-street, "What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season?" They could probably list several general things they are happy are in their life. But if you followed up with the question, "Who are you thankful to for these things?" What would they say?

As a Christian I am ultimately thankful to God for every thing in my life. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17 But it's not enough to feel grateful. An "attitude of gratitude" should have the result of saying thank you. We give thanks to God for our meals, but is it a perfunctory motion, or a true act of gratefulness? And when what God has given us has been channeled to us through a person, we should also thank them.

Ways to thank:

  • Thanksgiving journal -- Get a pretty journal (our just some papers) and put it where you will see it often. Every time you think of something you are thankful for, note it down. Maybe make this a family project, everyone can add to it. Start a new page each day and read the list at dinner together. After reading through your day's list,  pray and give thanks to God for all these things.
  • Write a note to someone -- There are people in your life who do things that make life more enjoyable. Maybe the receptionist always has a smile and bright cheery hello. Perhaps someone noticed when you were down one day and came and talked to you. Does your husband take the trash out without being asked? Did your son put his dirty clothes in the hamper yesterday? Has your daughter taken the time to give you a goodbye hug each morning? Did someone at church organize an activity you enjoyed? Can you imagine how good it would make them feel to receive one note in the mail with a couple of lines thanking them for this?
  • Tell someone -- When someone does something that you are thankful for, be sure to tell them right away. And include a hug, a real hug.
  • Tell someone else -- Brag on the person who was kind or helpful to you. Even if they don't overhear you, "You know, I'm so thankful that Sandy called me when I didn't come to Bible study. Sometimes it's nice to know you are missed."
  • Give a donation -- Perhaps there is an organization or fund that you benefitted from in the past and now you are in a position to help them. What about your Christian college? Send money with a short testimony of thanks. You might not think $25 is much, if that's all you can give, but what if half the alumni or organization members gave that much?
  • Give a small gift -- Is there someone who you are thankful for? Their favorite candy or gum, a cup of coffee from the coffee shop, a homemade cookie, something of yours someone really admired, a photograph of you together or their loved one, organize a Skype call for an older person who doesn't do technology, a pretty candle, a small bottle of hand lotion for their desk would let them know. Check out the dollar store for inexpensive finds that could be funny gifts or helpful ones. Be sure to say or write thank you with it.
  • Spend time with someone -- Time is the most valuable thing you can give to someone. We all have the same amount and it can't be bought back. If there is someone you appreciate, let them know by spending time with them, whether that is grabbing a cup of coffee together, spending an hour with someone who is housebound, or going on a trip together. Don't forget to say thank you to them for the effect they have had on your life.
  • Sing it --Find a hymn each day that expresses your thankfulness to God and sing it to Him, or at least listen to it on YouTube and hum along and use the words as a springboard for thanksgiving and worship to God.
  • Social Media it -- Sure go ahead and post a phrase or picture of what you are grateful for everyday in November. But don't let the post be the end of your thanksgiving. Make sure you have more than an attitude, that you actually thank someone or Someone. If you decide to use social media use the hashtag #aDifferentThanksgiving and #AroundtheTableThanksgiving so we can rejoice with you!

Always giving thanks for all things
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
to God, even the Father
Ephesians 5:20

  • Here's one more idea: Based on this verse, set your phone alarm for 5:20pm everyday until Thanksgiving. When it rings, pause and thank God for one of the many blessings He has given you.

For more ideas on how to spread thanksgiving in your house, click here and for more unique ideas to prepare for the holidays, click here for the things I did right last year and here for a real life illustration of how much we have.

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  2. Great ideas for celebrating this Thanksgiving season, Sharon (and for all year through)!

  3. here's another good one: invite a stranger for Thanksgiving! Thanks, sharon.

  4. These are all great ideas. Thanks for the important reminder to express our gratitude in the form of thanks. Many of these things I do fairly regularly, but I like the idea of telling someone else, and I plan to work on that one this Thanksgiving season. A couple of additional ideas--one year, my husband and I created a Joy Jar. We wrote down all the little things we were grateful for throughout the year on slips of paper and stored them in a jar. On New Year's Eve, we took them out and read them. This accomplished two things: 1) throughout the year, we look for things to appreciate, and 2) we relived the joy when we read the slips. Also, each morning at the end of my meditation. I say thank you for whatever comes to mind--the air I breathe, plentiful food, clean water, the night's rest, the coming day. Thank you Sharon for getting me thinking about my expressions of gratitude.



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