Walking through the grocery store the other day I found a sudden bounce in my step and a smile spread across my face. Earlier, I was overwhelmed with the daunting task of grocery shopping with two kids, but for some reason, I suddenly felt joy and excitement! My toddler dove off the footing of the grocery cart and I I screeched to a halt watching him run to the toy section. After I properly scolded him for jumping off, my ears heard a familiar tune over the store speakers….Christmas music!
I then took a good look at my surroundings. All of the Halloween decorations from yesterday (because I was literally here the day before) were removed overnight and replaced with Christmas décor. There was even an overhead sign with changing numbers reminding me how many days were left until Christmas. Immediately, I felt the shopaholic impulse to buy every toy I’ve had my eyes on for my angelic children. Oh, how I love Christmas! There is such an exciting buzz in the air of Christmas giving and buying and receiving… but wait a second- it’s only the first week of November! What happened to Thanksgiving? What happened to the season of giving thanks for the things we already have?
Is Thanksgiving Even Important Anymore?
Yes, yes it is! And here are three reasons to give thanks this season:
- A season of personal reflection.
- Highlight the things you have and encourage to give to others.
- Giving thanks turns any situation or hardship into a brighter future.
A Season of Reflection
What I love about Thanksgiving is the season of reflecting on what we have in our life and what is most important. I find myself asking, Where am I spending my time and energy and on who? I watched this video, literally, this brought me to tears. The video posses the questions: Who would you invite to have dinner with you? Leads one to reflect on another question: What important relationships should I cultivate?
All growing up I enjoyed a delicious traditional thanksgiving meal: roasted turkey and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, green bean casserole and pumpkin pies… (is your mouth watering yet?) The meal is something my stomach longs for, but the holiday company is the most exciting! Our family wouldn’t sit down at a table with just my siblings, but we would gather as an entire extended family in a church gym to accommodate my grandparents, five aunts, one uncle and over thirty grandkids and now twenty great-grandkids.
Our family gatherings are loud and lively. We laugh, talk and eat all afternoon. And once the food is cleaned up all the cousins, aunts and uncles would play basketball and even play several dangerous rounds of dodgeball. (We never made a trip to the hospital, but there were plenty of battle wounds to show of by the end of the night- thanks a lot dad!). Thanksgiving gatherings are the best! Surrounded with family and creating memories with our family brings us close. Reflecting on the people in your life and being grateful for their relationship is something Thanksgiving gatherings allow us to do.
Highlights the things you have and encourage giving to others
Children need the opportunity to reflect on the essential everyday things they have. I love seeing social media posts of families creating a “Thankful Tree”. Some put up their fake Christmas tree in November to first decorate it with handmade ornaments with words describing what they are thankful for. In our family we’ve made our tree completely out of paper and taped it against the wall. Then cut out leaf-shaped papers and wrote things we were thankful for. The list of gratitude on these leaves ranged from silly to serious. If one thing we have learned from taping our leaves on the wall it is this: don’t put it so low the baby can rip it apart (our problem this year)… We learned this:
Focusing on everyday wealth means we stop somewhat worrying about receiving on Christmas and instead choose to give to others. Multiple times a month my sweet tooth takes over and we make special treats for a family activity. While we wait for the cookies to cool, as a family we discuss people in our neighborhood and decide who we think would enjoy a treat and deliver a plate of goodies. Typically we set a plate aside for our family and giveaway everything else. Teaching these little ones to think about someone else is essential to their growth as human beings. I find that spending an entire month solely serving others in and out of our home, my children are grateful for things they have. And in turn my kids Christmas list written by greedy children is turned into a moderate Christmas wish list.
Giving thanks turns any situation or hardship into a brighter future
I am far from perfect, nor do I have the perfect family-life or marriage. We all have our trials, things we wish we could change about our self, our family, spouse, work place, career etc. The hardest part about being grateful during this month is focusing on the circumstance we are currently (and maybe suffering) in and through. Personally the only way I can be grateful about my-at times- difficult circumstances is choosing to be happy. I choose to look for the good. Sometimes finding the good is easy, I do afterall have three adorable pumpkin heads in my life. And sometimes the weight of the world is heavy on my shoulders and I have to search for the good. When that worry becomes to heavy, I look up to the sky and remember there is a higher power in charge.
Surrendering my will, my wants and my timeline is beyond excruciating in a world of instant gratification. Choose to be happy and look for the good. By being grateful for my life entitles me to be free from worry, kinda. November and the season of Thanksgiving should be celebrated all month long. Be grateful for the important people that have blessed your life. Search to know the difference between the “things” of life from the important keepsakes. Lastly- choose to be grateful- no matter what. In November I re-discover that gratitude is the key to happiness. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. Being grateful frees us from wanting more and loving more of what we have.
What are you thankful for this November season?