Tuesday, November 24, 2015

From "Turkey Day" to an "Attitude of Gratitude"

It's been interesting to trace popular thinking over the last few years about this week's national holiday. Growing up in the 60s and 70s we called it "Thanksgiving Day." A few decades later I heard radio and television announcers calling it "Turkey Day." Clearly, we had switched to focusing on possessions instead of the Giver of those possessions. This year I've heard a lot of people talking about trying to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude," regarding the holiday.

So to do this, families will gather around the table on Thursday, reciting things for which they are grateful. Others will take it a step further. In the days leading up to Thursday, they will write down these things and incorporate them into the place-settings, name cards, or table decorations they use.

I think this is a whole lot better than good old "Turkey Day." At least, we're being encouraged to give it some thought so as not to simply take our material blessings for granted. But we're still missing something here, aren't we?

It still isn't thanksgiving.

First, there isn't any giving to it. We're not offering gratitude to the One who truly deserves it for providing all the material blessings we so richly enjoy. Nor is there really any thanks because this kind of appreciation is still turned inward, focusing on my heart, my mind, and my attitude toward the people and things that are part of my life.

It reminds me of the thank-you cards my mom had my brothers and me write to grandma and my uncles and aunts who sent us presents. She wasn't teaching us to turn inside ourselves to cultivate a feeling of appreciation and gratitude. Rather, she wanted us to turn our thoughts -- our attitudes -- outside ourselves to focus on those who loved us enough to sacrifice their time, effort and money to give us the gifts we enjoyed. Yes, that even went for those socks grandma carefully wrapped for us each Christmas! The gratitude flowed from the recognition of her love -- not by focusing on the happy feelings I had inside.

So this Thanksgiving I pray we will all do just that: give God thanks for the blessings He so richly showers upon us. This thankfulness is most certainly due Him for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus that our salvation and eternal reward come to us. It is by Him coming into this world as the God-Man, living among us, laying down His life on the cross, and then taking it up again in His resurrection.

It is the grand story we will begin reliving once again this coming Sunday as we celebrate the First Sunday in Advent.

As we take time this week to thank God for all He has done, be sure to pause and consider the ways He blesses your life. If you're so inclined, after you rise from your turkey and stuffing coma, click here and tell us what you're thankful for this year.

A Blessed and thanks-giving-filled Thanksgiving to you all!

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