He kind of gets the shaft when it comes to attention. Halloween ends, and according to retail stores, Christmas begins.
Thanksgiving and November seem to be overlooked at times or at least rushed so the Holiday season can begin.
I think it is quite ironic where Thanksgiving falls in the calendar year. It comes right before the season where our present culture pressures us to spend in excess and think all about what “we want.”
It starts young too.
There are toy magazines galore waiting for us in our mail box the day after Halloween.
My kids get right to it–flipping, yearning, circling their most wished for items. We went from pining candy to toys in 24 hours.
That’s hardly time to take a breather. This is why we need November. Why we need Thanksgiving.
It is so easy to get caught up in what we see and what others have that we can easily forget how much we have been blessed. It comes down to perspective.
The month of November deserves not only a big turkey meal but a big dose of perspective as we stop, look beyond ourselves, and practice thankfulness.
This is hard folks. I will be the first to admit how self absorbed our family can be. It takes time and intentionality to create a habit.
So we take steps toward the goal, not perfectly, but by obeying the One who calls us to give thanks.
Give thanks ALL THE TIME. Not just this month.
But each year it seems November rolls around and we all are in need of a reboot of attitude adjustment. Thus, we re-enter the training process of remembering the compassion and mercy of God. And the privileges we have in our family.
Here are some ways our family is cultivating an attitude of gratitude this month:
- Give thanks everyday OUT LOUD. We have made a thankful tree in the past where we write the things we are thankful for on its leaves. Or Tweety (see above pic) joined our family and helped us remember to be thankful. Sometimes we would give thanks around the table at a meal. We make a point to find at least one thing we can thank God for each day. (Inevitably, more thankfulness ensues when you begin.)
- We eat rice and beans once a week throughout the month for dinner. Maybe it’s not rice and beans for your family–maybe it’s oatmeal or a veggie and fruit plate. We do this to remember how wonderful it is to have a variety of foods to eat and the conveniences with which we can get our food. It makes Thanksgiving Day’s meal really yummy! We appreciate it more.
- Give of our time and resources for someone else. It’s hard to think of yourself when you are doing something for someone else. This month we try as a family to “do for others” what “Christ has done for us.” One of our favorite ways to give is Operation Christmas Child. The kids love packing a shoebox to send as a gift across the world. We have packed “car kit” bags for the homeless (crackers, water, deodorant, toothbrush, etc.) to keep in our car as we are out and about to give away. We have made baked goods for neighbors, local firefighters, teachers, or postal workers to say “thanks.” We really just try and open our eyes and look at the needs around us. There is so much we can do!
- Meditate on a passage of Scripture and learn a new Hymn. Each November we practice as a family learning a passage of God’s Word about thankfulness. Our favorite is Psalm 100:4-5. We have done these same verses the past two years because they are just so good! We also try learning a new song. This November we are learning, “Now Thank We All Our God.” Whether we just play it in the car or the house or sing it out loud, it fills our heart with worship for the God who gives every good and perfect gift.
- Keep a thankful jar. Several years ago, a friend sent me this idea from Habits for a Healthy Home. There are lots of little ways you can practice thankfulness throughout the month. We printed these out, put them in a jar, and a couple times a week we would pull one out. The kids love this–especially when it has things like, “Give thanks for your car. Clean it out and go for a ride to get an ice cream!” These are a great help on days when no one is feeling especially thankful. It gets your thankful juices going. (*We did not use one of the options: Thankful for a Prophet. You could replace with Thankful for your Pastor, etc…)
I need these reminders just as much as my kids do. How quickly I forget how faithful and loving the Lord has proven to be time and again to me.
I’m praying for God’s grace for all of us this next month to not only give thanks for the holiday, but to LIVE A LIFE that gives thanks in ALL circumstances.