I’ve been reflecting on the upcoming months as I begin to plan my holidays around my parents and my in-laws, pray my brother can make it to each gathering, consider menu options & ponder what gifts to give. I love buying presents for people, love surprising them with a thoughtful piece of evidence that demonstrates my love & appreciation of them.
My husband and I have struggled to get by these first 3 years of our marriage as the economy fell apart around us and we saw our hours take cuts while everything else seemed to soar in price. I like so many others this year, will be giving in an extra thoughtful and budgeted way.
As I sat pathetically lamenting how little I have to give this year I remembered some posts I had seen on Facebook, people ascribing a different letter of the alphabet to each day and listing something they are thankful for that began with that letter.
Example: November 13th, 13th letter of the alphabet = M
Today I am thankful for the Memories I have of my childhood, my grandfather, my family, and the new ones my husband and I are making.
Before we enter into this season of giving gifts to others, we have a wonderful opportunity to pause in thankfulness this Thanksgiving. I’ve found that as I’ve considered how much I already have it has shrunken down my own Christmas list of wants. I have a great deal that I call my own and recalling my blessings as I walk into Target or The GAP where everything seems to have my name written on it, I’ve realized I have a bit of an easier time saying “no” (of course, I’ve also stopped going to GAP to make saying “no” much easier).
I guess my point is that the “Thanks” comes before, and very importantly before, the “Giving” and that’s a really good thing.
I want to invite you to take some time to write out a list of the things you are thankful for. If you don’t like doing that, just take a few minutes to wander about your living place and take count of all the things you have and all the memories attached to them. This is not an exercise designed to invoke guilt, just thankfulness. We will always want things, either because they are beautiful or cool, it doesn’t matter – I don’t want you to feel guilty about wanting. But I think we can get wrapped up in the idea of “getting” and can even be consumed by it. I know I have. But when thankfulness is on our hearts, in our eyes as we look on our loved ones & surroundings, well, it makes us far less vulnerable to the “getting” bug.
So, my encouragement to you is to take some time – whether it be each day leading up to Thanksgiving, a Facebook post, Sunday morning devotion, or your one quiet evening this week – take some time to be thankful for where you live, what you have, the moments of joy you’ve had this month, a true friend, or a loving God. Make it a simple list; I took a walk in a lovely park today with my husband and my sweet dog, Coco. She won’t be around much longer, this may be our last winter, and I’m just grateful to give her moments like that & share them with my husband.
Take time now to make your Christmas that much richer. I guarantee you, there is no gift that can be wrapped in paper that will bring you the true happiness you seek.
You know that’s true. You may be happy to get it, enjoy it, but that inner-happiness, that joy that we’re all chasing, that doesn’t come from a pricey gift, it comes from a deep inner-satisfaction, a sense of gratification and a desire to bless others as you have been blessed.
I didn’t want us to wait until Christmas to have that talk about the true spirit of giving, it should start now when we have an opportunity to be grateful.
So, what are you grateful for today? Begin now in practicing some thankfulness! If you’re having a hard time narrowing it down try sticking to the letter “M,” (M for Molly??) it helps ; )