Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart!

I certainly am not the first to complain that, in our materialistic world, Christmas consumerism begins WAY too early!  I really am amazed that it happens earlier and earlier each year.  Even the Christmas music is on the radio early this year (that one I don't mind quite as much!)

One of the reasons the rush to Christmas saddens me is because the Thanksgiving season gets a mere nod.  Not only that, it is becoming known as the feast before the kick-off to Christmas shopping: Black Friday.  The stores are even opening on Thanksgiving Day now! I could write a couple of pages about that...but that is not what this post is about!

My family and I LOVE Thanksgiving, celebrate it the whole month of November, and try to practice it all year round.  There are so many scriptures about being thankful.  In the King James version, thanks appears 73 times and the word thanksgiving appears 28 times!  Here are just a few:

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.  I Chronicles 16:34

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  Psalm 100:4

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thess. 5:18

One way our family practices thankfulness is through a tradition that we start in the beginning of November.  A number of years ago, my mother in law gave me a beautiful fall Longaberger basket.

One year, we decided to write down every day one thing that we were thankful for.  At first, when we just had a few kids,  I felt crafty and used printed out cards with cornucopia on them.  After ten children we have resorted to strips of computer or school paper!  Each day we write on our slips of paper and put them in the basket.  Grandma and Grandpa and whoever else will be joining us for Thanksgiving that year do it at their house as well and bring them on Thanksgiving Day.  We put them all in the basket and mix them up.  The first years, we would pass the basket around the table and one by one we would pull out a slip and read the sentiments of thanks before we ate our meal.  As our family has grown, we have found that to read all the slips can take quite a while (figure 25-27 days times 10-12 people!  That's a lot of thanks!)  Now, we give thanks to the Lord before the meal, eat, and then have our traditional passing of the basket and reading of the thanks cards.  It is a great time for the whole family.  It is always a treasure to hear some of the things that are written on the papers.  Many are the obvious, but important:  parents, siblings, family, etc.  There are always thanks for salvation, grace, God's provision and protection.  But there are always a few very sentimental ones specific to how God has been working or a way He has shown Himself very personally in someones life. There are thanks for the big things and then the children always remind us to give thanks in even the little things as their papers are filled with thanks for the pizza last night or that they got to ride to the store with dad. There are also always some funny ones-that probably no one but our family would think is funny.  You'd have to be there kind of thing!  All in all, it is such a special time to see our family gathered around the table giving thanks to God in all things and reminding us of His faithfulness and goodness to us.

This is one of our most treasured family traditions and is such a great way to kick-off Advent, the true meaning of Christmas, and to remind us to be thankful all year long!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 
Colossians 3:17