Change it up this Thanksgiving

Some years ago I asked a group of kids what Thanksgiving meant to them (watch out for answers when you open up the floor for kids to share their thoughts–you never know what you’re going to get). In this instance, it was no different. Here is a sampling of the answers:

“Thanksgiving? Huh?”

“It’s when mom and dad dress up and we get candy.”

“Thanksgiving is when we go see grandma. Her breath stinks.”

“I don’t like it; pumpkins are gross.”

“Thanksgiving is when the pillagers have a picnic with Pocahontas.”

“I’m thankful for everything, even my little sister…as long as she doesn’t take my dinosaur.”

“Mom goes shopping.”

As you can see, the answers are all over the place. But, that’s about right, isn’t it? Thanksgiving as a holiday grew out of a sense of pause and thankfulness that has saturated our nation from its origins. What began as a simple gathering to celebrate the bounty of God’s blessing is now as diverse as the people our land sustains. From a football lover’s fantasy to a cook’s palatial delight, from sea to shining sea, America and Americans have a vast array of things to be thankful for.

But, are we giving thanks for it? Especially before it’s too late?

Recently, my wife read a popular book about giving thanks titled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (click here for a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913 ). Its main point was the gift thanksgiving can be to the person giving it and to the person or one receiving it. The author says, “The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest light to all the world.” That quote has stuck with me–the part about being brave, especially.

I stare into the eyes of brave people every day. I see people struggling in their fight with cancer, yet they are giving thanks. I observe Covenant Hospice staff who maintain composure and professionalism when the patient they have grown to love dies. How do they do that? Others don’t, and that’s okay. Everyone faces life differently. But there is a great lesson to be learned–the act of giving thanks in itself is a gift. A lot of times we only think of the object or person the thanksgiving is directed toward. This sheds light on the power of the act itself.

As I commented toward earlier, we as Americans have much to be thankful for, even if we don’t think we do or our circumstances are hiding them. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances.” God uses these small thanksgivings to bring about change and reveal joy even in the midst of adversity. I encourage you to be an agent for change this thanksgiving by making it a practice to find at least 5 things to be thankful for each day. Let this Thanksgiving holiday be a time where our hearts are challenged to meet the brave task of thanksgiving, that we may all be called agents of change and see the act of giving thanks do its work in our lives and the lives around us.

BTW, thanks for reading!

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