The holidays are here! Did anybody have a moment of panic when they realized Thanksgiving is this week? Much as I love Thanksgiving, it feels like the gateway to a month of trying to cram holiday traditions in. I had to remind myself that we’ve done the pre-work: 90% of our shopping and wrapping is done, and we made a family list of activities we want to get in before now and Christmas (different lights displays, making cookies, doing the tree, etc.). Most of those activities even got written on the calendar.
I’ve been thinking about how Thanksgiving sets us up for the holiday season much the way that Sabbath sets us up for a good week. Or at least that it can set us up for a good holiday season.
JB Glossinger talks about how most of us see things as 51% negative and 49% positive, but if we can flip those numbers, we can change our entire lives. A changed perspective can be the difference between worry and trust, between the hope that drags a person forward and despair that leaves us exhausted.
Gratitude is one way we can have a more positive outlook. I’m always amazed by how differently I can feel about my life from day to day. Tuesday last week I was excited about the projects I had going on and ready to take on the week. Wednesday, I was convinced we haven’t made any progress in the past year and that we weren’t going to make any. There were no major changes that happened Tuesday night or on Wednesday. I was a little sleep deprived so that was part of it. But mostly, it was just a perspective shift. The same events that seemed so hopeful and exciting on Tuesday were lackluster and a waste of time on Wednesday.
I have found, however, that if I catch myself when I start sliding into negativity and add gratitude to the mix, I can keep from having that negative perspective shift. A gratitude list is one way to do that–although I can make a list without actually feeling gratitude; it turns into a list of things I should be grateful for. Another way is to pick one or two things you’re grateful for (or know you should be grateful for) and to dwell on them until your heart swells and you see God’s grace at work.
Thanksgiving can be a day of frantic cooking and stressful interactions. It can also be a day to reflect on the amazing things God has done in our lives. It just depends on what we choose to do with the day.
Gratitude can be a solid foundation to springboard into the holidays with a heart that is looking for God’s hand, for the good gifts that He wants to give us this December.