This time of the year revolves around tradition. We dig out familiar decorations, play familiar songs, and cook (delicious, nap-inducing) familiar foods! There’s something comforting about these predictable rituals. One of the best-known Thanksgiving customs is that moment on Thanksgiving Day when everyone goes around the table and shares what they’re thankful for. Family, friends, health, jobs, education, religious freedom, the chance to be together, the list goes on. There’s no denying it – Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect, and to give thanks for all that we’re grateful for.
But this year, I’d like to challenge you to tweak that familiar Thanksgiving tradition a bit – and not just on the day itself, but for the rest of the holiday season, too! Let’s call it “Thanksgetting”. It’s easy to give thanks in a word or two when it’s your turn at the table, but who in your life deserves to get thanked, not just for what they do, but for who they are? Galatians 5:22-23 says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
First, think about who in your life demonstrates any one or number of these qualities. Maybe it’s your mom, who still lovingly calls to make sure you’re taking your vitamins, even though you’ve been out of the house for 20 years. Perhaps it’s the co-worker who brings those delicious homemade cookies to the office every single Friday! What about your child’s teacher, who you’re convinced has the patience of a saint? Or is it that friend who has battled chronic illness for years and still cheerfully praises God for the gift of life each day?
Second, think about how that individual (or those individuals, if you came up with several!) can GET your thanks, not only during this season, but all year. How can you honor their gifts, the fruit of the Spirit that you see in them, as well as bless them and express your gratitude for the way they share those gifts in your life? It could be as simple as picking up the phone for the first time in months, sending a note in the mail, or taking them out to lunch. But regardless of whether your gesture is big or small, make it intentional. Don’t just tell them that you’re thankful for them – tell them why. Let them really GET your thanks!
Throughout this “thanks” season, take time each day to remember a special someone in your prayers, and thank God for the gift that they are to you. And when Thanksgiving Day arrives and you’re sitting around the table sharing what you’re most grateful for, tell your story of practicing ThanksGETTING this year. You never know – you might just start a new tradition!
“It is not joy that makes us grateful. It’s gratitude that makes us joyful.”