Artificial Thanksgiving

The turkey has been eaten, it is we who are now stuffed, and if we consume one more pumpkin-flavored anything we may very well turn orange. The tree is up, lights are strung, pumpkin has given way to peppermint, and just like that Thanksgiving is done for another year. Check.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that we don’t really like to be content – or at least we don’t want others to perceive us as such. As a whole, complaining and grumbling are as natural, and instinctual, as breathing. So when we come together, setting aside one day a year to declare to everyone how “thankful” we are – I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. If we don’t practice thankfulness, if we don’t have an attitude of gratitude, then setting aside the last Thursday of November as our day of being thankful is insane and laughable and sad.

complaints_lineAll it takes is about five minutes on any social media platform to realize how thankful people aren’t. Celebrating Thanksgiving then becomes more akin to an hour at church after you’ve spent the entire morning yelling at your kids and your spouse just to show up with your fake smile so everyone knows that you’re “fine” and “have it all together” and #blessed. Stop. Just stop. Stop being fake, stop complaining about your first world problems, and actually – genuinely – be thankful! “There is always always always something to be thankful for.” (Author Unknown)

I’ve recently started a gratitude journal, and I would recommend everyone get in on this! Pausing every morning to write down a few things for which I am thankful changes my outlook and perhaps stops my complaints before they start. Cutting them at the quick, so to speak. My flesh is like: “I have all these complaints I need to get out!” While my heart is more like: “I’ll smother your complaints with thankfulness so they can never escape!” (Yes, my internal dialogue is amusing.)

gratefulCan you find good in the bad and the inconvenient? Try this: if you feel a complaint creeping up, turn it into a word of thankfulness.

“I hate my job!” becomes “I am fortunate to have a job.”
“My kids are driving me crazy!” becomes ” I’m so blessed to have a house filled with the noise and mess because it is also filled with love.”
“It is freezing outside!” becomes “I’m lucky to have a warm place to go home to.”

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5)

And then there’s God. If you truly cannot come up with one thing in your life for which to be thankful, give thanks to God. Not the rote meal prayers we recite (which are those really thank-filled prayers anyway?) But be thankful for His eternal steadfast love. Be thankful that He chose you. Be thankful that, through Jesus, He has made you blameless in His sight, and clean, and forgiven, and FREE! Start with sincere thanks to Him and you will likely never run out of thankfulness!

auther_unknown_quoteSo, what if for 2016 we could change things up a bit? What if we could turn Thanksgiving Day into Complaining Day, but in return every other day of the year would be designated as a day of thankfulness? What if we had to reserve all of our complaints for just one single solitary day? Not only would it be a very lonely holiday (because who would volunteer to spend a day or meal with a bunch of downers?), and not only would it replace “Tax Day” as the most loathed day on the calendar, but I would bet after almost 11 full months of being thankful, we would find very little about which to complain. As we wrap up this year, let’s resolve to be a more thankful people – and see if it doesn’t catch on! There is always, always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. And let me just say, dear friend: I am thankful for you!

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Author: Shannon Erickson

I am a wife, mother, and Christ-follower who desires to see everyone telling the stories God has written into their lives, for the His glory and the benefit of others. I also run on sarcasm, coffee, and a whole ton of grace! Thanks for stopping by, and I do hope you'll stick around!

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