“What are your plans for Thanksgiving?”
I ask this question most years as Thanksgiving approaches. But isn’t there more to it than just a holiday? Cooking and eating and being with family. Couldn’t there be more than food and family? When the tryptophan is pulsating through your veins, will the big push towards Thanksgiving be fading? Most years, I’m thankful that all the cooking is over (but don’t feel so thankful with the mound of dishes piled up in the sink).
I want more with my Thanksgiving plans. If I’m going to have more, I need to have thanks giving in my Thanksgiving. I need a thanks giving plan–one that doesn’t fit on a recipe card and can’t be bought at a store.
What are my plans for thanksgiving?
Giving thanks isn’t going to erupt from me accidentally. In some circumstances, it may–especially if God gives a big “YES!” to a prayer I had thought was impossible. If I only give thanks when that happens, thanksgiving won’t happen. I have to plan it. I have to be intentional. But how can I plan thanks giving?
Here are four ways anyone can intentionally add thanksgiving to their Thanksgiving
Look for it.
Some people make November a month-long opportunity to write each day about thanksgiving. When I see their “Day….I’m thankful for…” post, I am encouraged. They are looking for thanks. The challenge helps keep their mind (and heart) hunting for the blessings all around. If you didn’t start on day one of November, don’t be discouraged. Today is a great day to start.
A friend gave me a copy of One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces (affiliate link). This book has changed my thinking about how much there is to be grateful for–right here, right now. Go on a thanks giving hunt and watch yourself be transformed.
Deciding to give thanks takes discipline. There are always reasons the picture isn’t perfect–things that would make it better or more complete or more something. Decide to be thankful for a bit or a piece. Let that be your overwhelming thought rather than the parts you want to complain about. Thankfulness is entirely about mindset not circumstance. Whenever I meditate on the details of my imperfect situation, I feel discouraged and depleted. I get worked up over it–and that rarely makes life better. Oftentimes, a good night’s sleep or a power nap provides the time to regain perspective. Given time, I can see the good that was impossible to see in the moment.
Get it out.
Write it. Speak it.
Plan on expressing thanks somehow. Thankful thoughts have some value in your head and heart, but speaking words of thanks work powerfully not only for the speaker but also for all those who hear the words of gratitude.
Choose to write. Even if your thanks is directly to God, writing the thoughts one by one strengthens the thanks. When I look at my words, I pause and my feelings of gratitude deepen.
Thanks can be big or small. Pause and plan on thanks–and then start getting the words out. Make a phone call. Write a letter. Open up a journal and start listing. Don’t delay. Your joy and the joy you spread is waiting on you.
Turn it around.
Turn it around” chooses to be thankful after the fact. Deciding ahead of time to be thankful is anticipating good or choosing to look at the good. But what if something catches you off guard. An unexpected, ugly situation arises. What then? You may not have the strength at the moment to give thanks and, in that way, turn an unpleasant reality around. You may need (as I have many times) to get a break from it. Later, return to the situation in your thoughts. Add some big picture perspective. If all you can see is that you survived it, that’s something. Start giving some thanks.
And in the spirit of Thanksgiving and plans for thanksgiving, here are some of my thankful thoughts.
I am thankful for…
1. My husband and children
2. The house we own
3. My husband’s job
4. Baby Cake’s friends who live next door
5. My guitar and the joy of teaching beginners.
6. Friends I can tell the real story
7. Neighbors I can call on to help
9. My church
10. Babies I get to enjoy on Sunday mornings in the nursery
11. Facebook. I really have stayed in contact with friends through it (Don’t forget to connect with me here.)
12. Two cars. It has made life so much simpler.
13. My iPad.
14. My camera. I am thankful for all the memories it has captured
15. Good books
16. Moments to read said good books (and audio books to listen to when I’m in the car)
17. The local library
19. Friends and family that come to visit
20. Coffee, especially good coffee.
21. The writing outlet that is my blog.
I originally wrote this in 2012. It’s now 2016, yet I modified very little on my list. Our lives continue to change, but much of what I found to be a blessing then still fills me with gratitude.
I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and make plans to have thanksgiving throughout the year.
What are you thankful for?
Share your top 5 thankful thoughts in the comments below.