The Focus at Thanksgiving

There is always something to be thankful for- thanksgiving text, with leaves. There is always something to be thankful for- thanksgiving text, with leaves. Good for greeting card, home decor, T shirt, textile print, and other gifts design. Holiday quote. Thanksgiving - Holiday stock vector

The many special times and seasons we celebrate have their particular focus. Birthdays,  weddidng anniversaries, Easter, Christmas: all have something unique at their core, and our mind fixes on that essential element when we c0mmemorate the occasion. This month we celebrate Thanksgiving. In the national psyche, this day has its collective focus, which,  more often than not, is a far cry from what the real emphasis ought to be. As the day approaches, it would be good for us to take a few moments to reflect on our individual focus for this major holiday.

From years of observing the preparations for celebrating Thanksgiving, I would hazard a guess that we give an inordinate  amount of attention to  the food–particularly the turkey. It’s as if a synonym for Thanksgiving is “turkey.” I have even  heard some individuals  jokingly refer to the day as “Turkey Day.”  The build-up begins days, even weeks, ahead of time. The Consumer Protection Agency  gives out the bad news about how much more the turkey will cost this  year than it did the year before, and we are also given the calculation of how much more the meal itself will cost, compared to the previous year. It’s safe to say that despite the cost, or,  this year, because of the cost,  the focus will  be on the food—the kind of menu we’ll have and the toppings and trimmings. We envision a beautifully set table with the  well-dressed bird in the center.  But why can’t it be the gratitude and praise that we anticipte as the day approaches?

What did the Piilgrims, the  original celebrants of Thanksgiving, have in mind? What was their focus? Without a doubt, it was on giving thanks, simply expressing gratitude to God for having their lives spared after they were  battered by a harsh year in the new land. They were grateful for the blessing of having  something to eat.  The day was not about food, but on an appreciative spirit. We, too, should come to the Thanksgiving table with a spirit of personal  thankfulness for our  blessings: for  family and friends, for community, for our country in which we can live peaceful and godly lives, and, yes, for food, generally  accessible and usually plentiful.  In these times, fraught with challenges at home and abroad, we have a lot to be thankful for.  I’m not saying that we  should allow  the unkindness and mean-spiritedness  pervasive in the land to make us  feel like being ascetics and deny ourselves  the enjoyment of  Thanksgiving Day. Rather, we need to experience it as  a day with spiritual significance, a day to give thanks from our hearts.

Harvard Health magazine  states that giving thanks can make us happier, that being grateful can “lift the spirits.”  The findings from positive psychology research  show  that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions.”  There is personal  benefit, then, in focusing  on being grateful for what we have, including the seasonal delectable food. So  what  if we  don’t have   an    elaborate feast to   dive  into  on   Thanksgiving  Day.   We   can  eat and drink  what we have  with a thankful heart.  Scripture makes  us aware that we can keep the thankfulness alive in us by giving  thanks “in  everything”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  The emotional benefits of being thankful carry on long after the special day  has  passed.  On Thanksgiving Day, think of the things  you’re grateful for.  In your mind, set them all in a row,  offer them  up to God, and let gratitude wash over your heart.

Blessings,

Judith

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“Gratitude  can transform common days into thanksgivings.”
William Arthur Ward

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5 Comments

  • Fartema Mae Fagin

    “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings.” William Arthur Ward

    This quote is powerful. There’s a song called ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one’. So much do I have to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season. However, this season seems to be overshadowed by the rush of Christmas decorations and fanfare. I recently spent a couple of days in the local hospital with my youngest adult son. Praise God it was not Covid, but a flu bug. I pleaded with the medical team of experts for an early release. On day two this conversation took place.
    “We’re going home today.” I told the nurse.
    “Oh, you have that kind of faith, huh.”
    “Yes, I do.” I assured her.
    Blessed Assurance, he was discharged. He is now recovering at home. Happy early Thanksgiving.

    • Judith Nembhard

      Hello Fartema,
      I like the quotation also. It has a lot of meaning for application to our lives.
      I hope Alton is doing better. Your faith won the victory on his behalf.
      Happy Thanksgiving. Stay in faith. JN

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