It’s interesting how easy it is to forget what holidays are all about. Christmas is meant to be about giving but too often we focus on “what can I get out of it?” We prepare our wish lists before Thanksgiving even arrives, before we have decided what we should give to our family members. And Thanksgiving itself is meant to be about counting our blessings, and yet we often focus too much on the food we will eat, and the football game we will watch. Or maybe we get excited to see the people we will be spending it with and the things we will do to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, those are important parts of the holidays. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be a very special time if it wasn’t commemorated by family get togethers and festive traditions. However, each holiday has a theme which is worth pausing to think about, a lesson which is worth trying to learn in a new way each time the special day comes around.
Giving thanks is a beautiful theme. Gratitude makes each good thing more meaningful. Without gratitude, without pausing to appreciate all the beautiful things in our lives, they can too easily slip right by us unnoticed. If we don’t stop and notice the beauty, we might get too busy, too pre-occupied to see it. On the other hand, if we foster an attitude of gratitude, if we make time to give thanks, we will see more goodness and beauty all around us, and we will also appreciate it more than we did before. It’s the difference between being handed a sandwich and chowing down immediately, and looking in the eye of the person who handed you the sandwich and saying “thank you” and thinking to yourself, “I’m really lucky to be able to eat this. Some people have nothing to eat right now.” When we practice an attitude of gratitude, each tiny part of our daily lives becomes something to celebrate, something to rejoice in. This Christmas, we all have good and bad things happening in our lives. Some hard parts, some parts that are going well. But let’s really make an effort to give thanks, both in words and silently in our hearts.
By Colleen McCrum