Thanksgiving and Christmas season are full of activities that keep us busy. It’s the beginning of extra food preparation, company, traveling, decorations, presents, rehearsals at school and church, additional functions to attend, and so much more. Just typing this makes me tired. When you think about past holiday seasons, what do you remember? I remember the people. I remember the kindnesses. I remember the laughter. Other details are often not as memorable. Am I thankful for the things or the giver? All of these questions bring thoughtfulness today.
“Perspective can always adopt GRATITUDE, and gratitude is what always parents JOY,” is a reminder by Ann Voscamp. With my focus on living in the now, I pause to think. This is THANKSgiving. Most of us recall the history behind the celebration when the Pilgrims invited the Indians to share a feast with them. In our home we focus on sharing with friends and family along with promoting an attitude of gratitude for this holiday. Our family looks forward to sharing food and gifts with friends along with opportunities to volunteer in needy places.
Those who stay on the treadmill of busyness miss the really beautiful moments. So, in the season named THANKSgiving, I ask myself, “Who am I thanking?”
Here are five ideas for THANKS giving:
1. Write a note to a person you do life with regularly.
Choose someone in your home or someone you see regularly. Communicate several things that you really like about them. Focus on their actions. Positive, life-giving words are really so uplifting to those who receive them. For myself, I am also writing a few notes to some people that have invested in my life. Yes, a handwritten note. Everyone loves to receive snail mail. If you don’t do paper notes, maybe you could call or send an email. Take time to call someone that has impacted your life.
2. Notice the people who serve you.
Notice them at the bank, the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners, and a fast food drive-through. They are people with lives outside this job. Offer life-giving words every time you see them. Be encouraging if you notice rude people in line ahead of you. I waitressed and cleaned houses to earn my way through college. My parents were not able to help me financially because they were under-supported missionaries. When I was a senior in high school my father wanted to help me go to college, but he couldn’t because there was no money for college. I assured him it would be okay. Using my graduation gift money, I flew 3000 miles to college and started working hard. Four years later I graduated debt free. You never know the reason someone is working that service job. When they have done a job well, reward them with a healthy tip and a hearty thank you.
Along the way, many people were extra kind to me with tips. My eyes fill with tears today as I remember their generosity. One of the pastors at my church handed me a crisp $100 bill after I waited on him and his wife for dinner. I still remember their kindness. My father-in-law used to carry a hidden $100 to give someone in need. Anyone that knew him remembers his generous love for people. Several of my family members practice this pattern today. If you pay your food bill with a credit card, try to give your server the tip in cash. Sometimes they don’t see the tip until they get a paycheck. Sometimes it gets lost. Remember it is nice to have the cash promptly.
Don’t think of servers as less than you. They are worthy of your attention. Remember their names. Ask about their family. Tell them you are going to pray for your meal and ask if they have a need you can include in your prayer. Tip well. Look them in the eye and say thank you. Be kind. Kindness counts.
3. Thank a real person each day.
Every day take the time to say thank you to a real person. You might get carried away and try to do it more than once. Just once each day, say thank you out loud to a real person. Try this new habit. You may enjoy it more than the person receiving your thanks.
4. Start a Gratitude Journal.
Buy a pretty spiral journal. Place it on the counter in your kitchen. Number each line on the first page and start writing down things you are thankful for each day. Invite the other members of your family to write down things they can give thanks for each day. A familiar chorus goes, “Count your many blessings. Name them one by one…” Think about passing this book around the table to encourage entries.
5. Thank God each day.
Most importantly, speak your honest thanks to God each day for the simple things that are our everyday blessings. Thank God for the blessing of living in America, for your family, for your health, for a new day, for food to eat, for abundance, for clothing, for shelter, and for a bed. Consider that the water we use for showers surpasses what much of the world has to use for drinking water? Sing thanks to God by selecting worship songs that point to His holiness, His love, His kindness, His grace and His goodness.
Maybe gather some notes in a basket for this upcoming season and invite your family and guests to write a thank you note or notes. Volunteer to mail them. Offer the gift of thanks.
Remember, it is your daily habits that make up your everyday. It is the sum of your days that make your life.
Perhaps you are walking through some very hard days. Maybe you are sad. I am struggling. I understand. Some things I know to be true. When I purpose to give thanks in the ways listed above, my heart is lighter. I am cheered. Friend, I invite you to give your thanks in several of these ways and enjoy a more meaningful THANKSgiving!!!
Join me for a conversation with Tim on this topic on Embrace Your Everyday podcast: