Thanksgiving! What a great word to reflect on as we enter into the holiday season and head towards Christmas! Festive fun and joyous times, right? Or maybe not so much? I would like to address gratitude as we enter into the holidays. This season of hope and love can be shadowed by overwhelming emotions. Whether it’s triggered by facing loss, by the added financial stress, by our own (sometimes unrealistic) expectations, or even a byproduct of dreary gray weather, depressive emotions can lurk over any of us. I am referring to a seasonal depression. And that’s where the word “thanksgiving” comes in. Dare I challenge you to pour out gratitude where you don’t feel like it?!
Maybe this time of year feels lonely? Thank God for a kind cashier, a smile from a stranger, a text message from a friend, a note of encouragement… but you say none of that has happened? Well then I say be that person! Be kind, smile at others, drop a message to someone, give a card, etc… BE what you want to receive.
Maybe you’re dealing with illness or an injury? Thank God for medical care, as needed. Or for natural supplements that seem to offer relief. Or for a kind nurse or friend who shows compassion. If you’re not dealing with this personally, who can you reach out to that is?
Maybe you have difficult in-laws or estranged family? Be kind anyways. Yes, really. Thank God that you get to choose to be the better person. Even if it is by way of just saying nothing. You know, that old mom rule “if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
Maybe you are facing loss of a loved one. Whether recent or seasoned long ago, the heart has a void. Fill it. Be thankful for having had them in your life, share the memories, eat their favorite meal, do their favorite activities. By letting it all be a part of your holidays you are letting them be present anyway. Don’t hesitate to share the legacy of love they had in your heart.
Maybe the weather has you blue? Thank God for changing seasons and that this will eventually pass. In the meantime, choose joy anyways! Breathe fresh air, exercise, love on others, smile at strangers… be the blessing that others need. In turn, you will be refreshed as well.
Maybe its finances. Thank God the gift of giving has no limit. Be bountiful in creativity. Something simple yet thoughtful is far more valuable than expensive gifts without a meaningful purpose. Let’s face it! We don’t need more things, but more kindness. Offer a skill as a gift. Cook a meal, draw a picture, give cookies, offer free childcare, write a prayer out for them, create a poem, etc… anything done in Love IS the Gift.
Maybe it’s just pressure. Feeling torn between others expectation and your own desires for the holidays. Sometimes the pressure is our own perfectionism. Thank God that Jesus is the only perfect one.
Does it kind of feel like Thanksgiving is intentionally before Christmas as a way to prepare our hearts? Let us remember what is important; love and thankfulness, as it seems that gratitude turns what we have into enough!!
Thank you, Jesus!