Please take a few minutes before you continue to read to listen to this song by Mercy Me.
We would all like to believe that when things in life get tough that our convictions will stand strong. Well, things are tough right now. I’m waiting for the locust and frogs to show up (a little comic relief). At this point, there is so much out of my control, things I can’t just fix, that all I have to lean on is my faith. My husband and I hold on to each other and our belief in a God who is bigger than all our worries or concerns.
Are we perfect in remaining constant in our faith during the storm? No. On any given day or hour, there is an internal struggle between ego, self, and selflessness. This time in our lives is just as much about how we walk the journey in faith, and what we learn in the process, as it is about just getting to the other side.
We believe that every season, good or bad, is the opportunity to learn a little more about ourselves, grow personally and spiritually, and eventually be ready to encourage someone else in their journey.
On one level, going into the Thanksgiving holiday we have much we could wallow and moan about. But on more important levels we have much more to be thankful for. We have what we need, and those we care about are healthy and safe. Those are the things we will focus on tomorrow and each day after.
Be encouraged today, and reminded for tomorrow as you are enjoying time with family and friends (or being driven crazy by them), that there is always far more to be thankful for than to complain about. Stand firm in your beliefs even if things are not going as you planned.
Sunday evening it occurred to me that we would be going straight from Thanksgiving into Christmas. Like within a week. The first weekend in December my father and his wife are coming for their Christmas visit. Given that they will be staying with us and we will be hosting the entire family for a Christmas celebration I needed to make a list.
Actually, there are three lists. Groceries for Thanksgiving week, groceries for the week of their visit and the other “to dos” I want to make happen for it to be a wonderful time. By December 3rd my house will be completely decorated for the holiday and there will be cookies baked. That’s the goal that getting all the things on my list marked off will accomplish. Reviewing my plan and lists something was missing. Something was nagging at me that I needed to do. What was it?
The AHA moment hit when I laid my notebook and pencil down. As I let go of my plan, I realized I needed to be sure I took time to be grateful and enjoy the planning AND the doing. No matter how many things get marked off the list, my dad won’t care and my family won’t notice. It will be preparing my heart for the holiday and the time together that will be the most important thing to do.
Yesterday was November 6th. I was in the car alone driving. Having full control of my radio button-pushing habit, I cruised to 106.9. Let me set the scene. It’s Friday, cloudy and balmy, and about 70 degrees. The sun was fighting to come out. And what to my listening ears should sound? Christmas music, of course.
I’m from Kentucky. Here it’s just as likely to be warm or mild as it could be snowing at Christmas. But I was raised on Irving Berlin and George Baily. At least get me past Thanksgiving and into a hint of cooler weather before you blast me with songs about kissing Santa Clause and jingle bells rockin’.
The whole thing was like when Coke attempted to whoo us with clear Coke. It just ain’t fittin’.
I went to the grocery Tuesday (yes, two days before Thanksgiving). My primary purpose was to pick up the fresh turkey we had ordered. Admittedly, there were a few other items, but nothing major. As I walked in there were people exiting with heaping cart loads of groceries. The store was abuzz with shoppers. There was a hustling energy much like gift shopping on Christmas Eve. It made me wonder if Thanksgiving was a surprise to these shoppers much like Christmas is to those who shop the day before. Or instead of shopping early, they chose to just wait and risk the possibility that the cranberry sauce in a can might be sold out or the pumpkin spice might be gone. Just wondering.
Truly friends we have much to be thankful for in this life. We are rich in friends, family and opportunity. There probably will not be any shortage in the grocery you find yourself in tonight at 10 p.m. (there is always that one key ingredient that was forgotten).
It’s the most wonderful time of the year [the song is in your head now, isn’t it]. The mindset most people have around Thanksgiving and Christmas is something we should embrace all year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see people focused on being thankful, giving to those in need and spending time with family. These are activities that we need to put in play throughout the year.
How much different would your day be if you started, perhaps on your way to work, thinking about all the good in your life? You may come up with one thing or 20. Either way, thinking on such positive meaningful aspects of our life can only do one thing, warm our hearts and lift our spirits. I’m not suggesting the Pollyanna approach, you may have a delightful ride into work and get there only to find the same personnel issues, budgetary problems, or deadlines not being met. This state of mind isn’t meant to have us living in la-la land. It’s merely a manner by which we will approach our day and all that it holds both positive and negative.
What if those who post daily thankful messages in November do it in May (half way between)?
What if we worried as much about the homeless and hungry when they can’t escape the heat as when they can’t escape the cold?
How would this new mindset change ourselves? Our world?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what todays grateful item would be. Reading over the previous five I am hopeful that much more of what I’m thankful for has been woven throughout. I didn’t want today’s post to be the typical things like faith, family and friends. You did read those things into the other posts, right? If not, here they are; I am very thankful for my faith the holds me steady, my family that always stands firm with me, and my friends who encourage me and add so much to my life.
Today’s post is what I like to call Thanksgiving soup – a bunch of little things that are full of goodness and laughter that come together to give great flavor to my world. It’s the simplest of things and people I encounter each day. Times and encounters that can’t be plan, Fate brings them together. We need to be paying attention to catch them.
This morning I got up to watch the Macy’s Day Parade – a Thanksgiving tradition of mine for many years. Jay got up with me and we enjoyed a cup of hot tea, the Rockettes, and marching bands from all over the country. About half way through, Cole got up and joined us. There the three of us snuggled on the couch, laughing and playfully enjoying some fun. It is these moments I have grown old enough and wise enough to cherish in my heart. You can’t trade them.
I won’t bore you with the hundreds of other examples of the simple pleasures in life for which I am thankful. But I will encourage you to slow down enough to enjoy a few for yourself.
Today I am grateful for those long hot days at the ball field watching my favorite 13 year old player. Some think our summer ball schedule is insane, two or three nights a week on the field and tournaments on the weekend. The sunshine, fresh air would only be replaced with chores, errands and house work if he didn’t play. By the time we get home our skin is laced with sweat and remnants of dirt that blows off the field from sitting behind home plate. We get cleaned up and my son comes proudly into the living room boasting about the ring he left on the tub. The evening is filled with talking about game highlights. Even when it rains and we get soaking wet, it’s a good day.
It has been a long-standing tradition in families across America that on Thanksgiving Thursday after over-stuffing on the turkey and fixings the football fans retire to take their naps in front of a bowl game. Meanwhile the shoppers in the family spread the newspaper ads out on the table and create their strategy for black Friday shopping.
In recent years the internet entered the scene as the shoppers made their plans for black Friday referencing the difference in pricing online and those in the stores. When there is less than a month and a list of gifts, all resources must be utilized. But that is where the line should be drawn.
Last week several retailers announced that their black Friday deals would begin at 10 p.m. the night before. The night before…that would be Thanksgiving night; grant it, shopping for Christmas can sometimes be hard to complete when it’s an important time to go to parties with friends and take the spiritual journey of the season, but is it necessary to squeeze out Thanksgiving Day?
Is it not worth a full 24 hours of life to slow down long enough to be thankful, stuff ourselves and enjoy time with family? Now those 24 hours are being encroached on by retailers trying to create frenzy, and have their day in the media.
The family tradition at the beginning of the piece many times ends with family playing cards or watching a movie together, not charging the door of Wal-Mart to save little, and stand in line all night. Where are our priorities? Are they on the people we are shopping for and the important times we spend with them? Retailers would have you believe that to show your love to that special someone, you absolutely MUST leave them at the Thanksgiving table, and go buy them stuff.
If we are not careful, Thanksgiving Thursday is going to become, Gray Thursday – another historical holiday lost in commercialism.