Small Beginnings: Here's to an attitude of gratitude

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year: Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day is nearly the only time of year that my husband’s side of the family all gets together for a day of hubbub and commotion. Our family Thanksgiving looks less like a Norman Rockwell painting and more like a zany scene from “Cheaper By The Dozen”! Our brood includes eight kids, twelve grandchildren with wives and girlfriends making our gathering more than twenty five strong. It’s every-man-for-himself, without ever losing the coz comfort of loving family.

Our menu is pretty traditional with a few excursions into creativity, but the unifying theme is always abundance. There’s more than enough to feed us twice and leftovers to share at the end of the day. One of our favorite parts of the day is when the guys and a few of the brave girls play football if the weather permits. But the best part of Thanksgiving is just being together, seeing each other and catching up on the family news that we sadly often miss out on in our individually busy lives. Thanksgiving Day is a treasure and just anticipating it makes me feel very grateful indeed.

As I reflect on this upcoming holiday I was thinking about the letters in the word “THANKS”. I would like to share with you some thoughts about giving thanks and what that means to me. The “T” in THANKS stands for TRUTHFULL. I believe when we are giving thanks whether to God in prayer or verbally to someone who means something to us, it is very important that our thanks be sincere and heartfelt. I’m sure we all have those moments when someone does something that irritates us and we furrow our brow in response and sneer “Gee, thanks!” But that is not what we mean at all. I hope that my words of thanks are never hollow or shallow but genuine expressions of the appreciation I feel in my heart.

The “H” stands for HUMBLE. I believe that when we consider the overwhelming blessings we have in this life we must respond in humility if we are honest. I know we all work hard and use wisdom to manage our resources, yet when it comes down to the root of things, we are blessed beyond measure and undeserving of the kindness poured down upon us by God’s generosity. Let us never forget that all we possess has only been lent to us by the Lord who bestows every good and perfect gift.

The “A” stands for APPROPRIATE. There are moments when our gratitude requires a response that exceeds a simple ‘Thank You.’ Call me old fashioned, but I still believe in the value of a written thank you note. You may have already spoken your words, but going the extra mile to communicate the significance of a kindness never goes out of style. Seldom is it necessary to repay the gift as that can become awkward quickly, but taking the time to acknowledge the gesture over and above a verbal response is good social etiquette. Mom will be proud of you!

The “N” stands for NATURALLY. Every parent hopes their child will grow up to be an instinctive appreciator. For some it flows more naturally than for others, but I believe we can all learn to look for something good and be thankful for it, even when circumstances are challenging. If gratitude becomes a natural outflow of the heart, joy and contentment soon follow and before you know it, your good vibes are rubbing off on everyone around you! Thanksgiving is contagious, don’t you know?

The “K” stands for KNOWINGLY. (That was a tough letter!) But to me it means we can be thankful on purpose. We can intentionally thank others when they are kind to us and we can purposefully thank God every day for twenty four new hours and the grace to enjoy them. That may not be automatic, but with determination I believe that each of us can find something to be thankful for. I didn’t choose a word for the letter “S”. That just makes THANKS plural which means it’s not just a one-time thing, we must do it again and again and again! Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!