Monday, October 14, 2013

A New Take on Giving Thanks

Good ol’ Thanksgiving.
Over the past few years I have come to recognize and appreciate the Thanksgiving holiday. Growing up it was just another reason the family came together to eat a delicious meal. We would spend one day on the weekend with my grand parents and my half brother who would join us at my parents house for a meal similar to that we would indulge in on Christmas. One other day on the weekend we would head into the big city to join in the festive feast with my mom’s side of the family—the whole family, being many cousins, aunts, uncles and my grandparents. Both gatherings included someone saying grace before the meal expressing more gratitude than any other time of the year, munching down on mashed potatoes, perogies (yum!), cabbage rolls and other generic celebratory meal food, topped off with the classic pumpkin pie with larger-than-needed dollops of freshly whipped cream.

Family, food and fun… what more do you need? Thanksgiving was just getting together with family, eating food and hanging out. The random extra thankfulness during grace I never gave much thought to. This was how we did thanksgiving. That’s it, that’s all.

As I get older I come to learn more about how the “Thanksgiving Sprit” needs to be included in our every breathe, every action, every moment and how we need to get real about this fact when it comes to the holiday.

We rarely come together on Thanksgiving because we are full to the brim with thankfulness and we want to bless those closest to us with delicious meals literally made with love. These things happen throughout the year in expected moments that truly make us feel thankful for our many blessings in life.  The holiday is a nice, slightly forced way, to get together and make us be thankful. I guess every now and then we need a kick in the butt to get us into gear! That should be the real reason for Thanksgiving—a reminder of how we are to act every day of every year. We shouldn’t base our lives around one day but allow the day to infiltrate our every day lives.

Last year I had the opportunity to celebrate American Thanksgiving. To form a generic statement—Americans tend to take their Thanksgiving very seriously. 
*Example: I was living in a house with five others and one gentleman in particular had a strict “no Christmas music before Thanksgiving” rule that he was quite dedicated to (hooray for Canadian Thanksgiving in October! Bring on the Christmas music!). 
I drove down the California coast to spend Thanksgiving with a co-worker and her family. We had incredible appetizers, a traditional meal (sweet potato casserole, and other generic American things I’ve never had as part of the Thanksgiving meal before) and played games everyone took part in after the last bits of food were stuffed into our already overfull bellies. The biggest part of this for me was, before grace was said and we devoured in minutes the meal that took hours to prepare, we all went around and said something we were thankful for—generic ‘friends and family’ aside. It was wonderful to hear the assorted sentiments expressed from the varied crowd. My pick for what to be thankful for was transportation. I clearly remember being thankful that a friend was home for the weekend and allowed me to borrow his car to make the drive out. I was thankful for the car, for being able to drive, for flying all the place I had the opportunity to go, thankful for my bicycle back home and even walking as a mode of transportation. Taking the time to think ‘outside the box’ of the generic relationship sentiments encouraged me to be thankful for things I otherwise forget to be thankful for.

We need to let the ‘outside the box’ thinking of what we are thankful for infiltrate our minds to become part of our daily thinking. Could you imagine if you took time in your exact state—right now—to be thankful for what is around you? I am thankful for carpenters who build sturdy chairs, I am thankful for farmers who dedicate their lives to growing and harvesting tea that is able to be transported all the way to Canada for me to sip. I am thankful for technological advances and that God has given people the talents and passions to be developing the technology that allows me to sit on a computer and type words people will be able to see over the Internet! I can see, I can type, I can smell, taste, function to the best of my ability to do things to glorify God in every moment of my life!

When it comes to the injustice surrounding us in the world we can be thankful that God is just and that He has put the passion in people’s hearts around the world to seek justice. A favourite quote goes as follows:
 “Yes, God calls us to relieve suffering and bring about justice-- absolutely. But God and His glory must be the driving force for this mission, not the plight of humanity." From Godspeed by Britt Merrick. 
With God and His glory behind our passion for justice how can we forget to be thankful for a God who loves love and justice and restoration? I am thankful that love, justice and restoration occur and will continue to occur until all the captives are set free!

It is impossible to not be thankful. Literally, Impossible.

As someone with a new take on Thanksgiving, I hope you too have found the ability to have the Thanksgiving spirit overflow into every aspect of your every day life. Give thanks constantly and you will see how much in your life you truly have to be thankful for.

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