As a child, it was one of my favorite holidays. Seriously, what is not to love? Food abounds. Football is on pretty much non-stop. Friends and family get together with no agenda other than nearness and community. If you let it, life seems to slow for just a few days and love seems to fill hearts and homes.
But the tragedy of it all is that for the vast majority of us, Thanksgiving is little more than a pit stop between Halloween and Christmas. Although in many ways we seem to go WAY overboard on decorations and elaborate menus in an attempt to host a flawless holiday extravaganza (pinterest), the reality is we approach the heart of the holiday as if we don't have time in the busyness of our lives for it. Oh sure, we might make a thankful tree like we saw someone else post on instagram. What a great idea, we thought. It will help us be mindful of the the season, to ponder and count our blessings.
But let me speak "hypothetically" for just a moment (or maybe be completely transparent). We've all had those sweet little thankful tree sticks sitting in the vase completely bare for awhile now. The boys have taken out the sticks to use as swords and you have yelled at them for it. Sweet little colored leaf shapes sit BLANKLY beside them just waiting to be filled with all the many things you and your family are thankful for. Your daughter has picked them up and tossed them into the air above her and you have yelled at her for it. Then the day comes that you realize that Thanksgiving is 2 days away and you plop your kids down with some markers and the leaves and you barkingly demand they list all they are thankful for quickly so you can get the leaves on the tree and everyone can appreciate the sentiment of the holiday they are about to partake in. You're just trying to do your part to help everyone embrace all that Thanksgiving is and should be, right? Of course, this is all "hypothetical."
Except it's not. The thankful posts and lists and trees and garlands are all so alluring. I want to do them, I really do, but it never seems to happen. It's not a lack of thankfulness, honestly it isn't. Sometimes it is that I am SO thankful, that I don't even know where to start. Sometimes it is because everything I write down seems boringly predictable and cliche. Sometimes its because my kids come up with the MOST ridiculous things (like anything their eyes can currently see. Broom has been thrown out there before...just saying.)
But mostly, I just think the lists seem to stop way short of the depth of the holiday. The lists are just the "thanks" part. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the thankful part wholeheartedly but I don't want it to end there. THANKS should always lead to GIVING. Our gratitude for the blessings we recognize in our own lives should spur us on to bestow those same blessings on others. Our thankful hearts should lead us to action.
So this year, we're doing our thankful lists a little differently. It won't be pinterest, fb or ig worthy...but it will be worthwhile. We are going to sit with our kids and each of us will thoughtfully list out at least 5 things that we are truly thankful for. (No, broom is not accepted:) And then we will figure out together how we can in turn "give" that same blessing to someone else.
(An example I am already anticipating is family. If we are thankful for our family, how can we "give" family to someone else? Maybe include the neighbor widows in some intentional family activities??)
The point I hope my kids (and I) get from this is that we do indeed have much to be THANKful for and much to GIVE as a result. God is the giver of all good things and it is His love that compels us to do the same for others.
Will you join my family?
I know what you're thinking because I'm right there with you. We are literally ONLY 2 days out from Thanksgiving!!! But the truth I'm embracing and the truth I want my kids to embrace is that it's never too late to let your THANKS lead to GIVING!
So join in...and have a Happy THANKS GIVING!