The Sunday before Thanksgiving. It's always a special day. Yes, the preparations are probably starting in your homes as it is in ours. Shopping is being conducted for the "perfect" meal. The lists are being made, so that we can check the items off precisely at the right moments. Assurances that we have "enough" of everything - food, plates, chairs, etc. Thanksgiving is a day by which we want to make sure everyone has a memorable experience.
Yes, that is how I viewed Thanksgiving for many years. A few years ago, our family decided to put a stronger emphasis on the "Thanks" part of the day. We have delighted in a variety of ways throughout the years to share our thanks, with each other, about our world - most importantly, our thanks to God. When the children were smaller, they were able to construct their own placemats with pictures of what they were thankful for. As the years moved forward, we were excited as we made a paper chain of thanks. Each night of November, we would write what we were thankful for, connect them together, and watch our chain of thanks grow until Thanksgiving Day! During the last few years, notes of thanks were written by each member of the family for each member of the family. I am sure these notes are kept in a safe place and are read on days when we need to feel the blessings of our Lord. It is important to take a few moments and find ways to give thanks for all that is good and right in our lives.
Where does it all come from? There is no doubt that although those around us provide so much for us, it all starts with God. The blessings, the love, the faith, the forgiveness - it is all graciously provided to us from God, multiple times a day, not just one day a year. Stop, think about today so far. What has happened that has been a blessing? Did you get out of bed? Have you spent a few moments, maybe at church, at breakfast, around a fire - with ones you love? Are you feeling well?
Let's even take a look at things that may not be going "just as we planned". This weekend, I had great plans of cooking, of cleaning, of getting the house ready for a wonderful holiday. Yet, I look at a walker, have a cast on my leg, and realize that the plan I had set for this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas may not be my plan. I have been blessed beyond measure, though. Although I may not understand the circumstances in my life, I have been afforded an incredible amount of blessings. I truly believe our Dear Lord wanted me to stop, to feel the love that has been around me so very much - and I am grateful that I feel it, see it, and now am taking the time to enjoy how much God's love is enveloping me. Through small things and large, too numerous to mention, I am thankful for so much that everyone has shared with me. There is thankfulness in all situations for us to see and enjoy.
So, as we begin our Thanksgiving holiday ahead, I pray that you take the time, to stop, and notice the blessings that God has so richly given to us. The tough situations can be replaced with love. The negative situations can be replaced with God's joy. The stress of the holidays can be replaced with the peace that comes when we focus on what God has provided for us. There is no perfection here on Earth. There is love, joy, and peace. May your Thanksgiving be filled with God and all He has brought to you.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." (NIV) Psalm 136:1