Somehow I was able to get my fall decorations up. I don’t have many, but they are out! I’m not even finished unpacking my other decorations. There are no pictures on the walls yet, just stacked against the bedroom walls.
I still have empty boxes piled up in my eating area waiting to be taken to the garage, which can’t be done until the garage is emptied out and mopped on a day when we’re not busy and when it’s not raining at the same time (a rare day). Since I have my fall decorations up, since I’m not holding Thanksgiving here at my house (so I don’t have to do any frantic cleaning), and since I bought most of the ingredients I will need for the food I’m bringing to my in-laws’ house on Thursday, I suppose you could say I’ve been making Thanksgiving preparations.
Yes, I am, but that is not what I was thinking about when I titled this post “Thanksgiving Preparations.” I’m talking about the preparation that Thanksgiving gives for the next major holiday before the end of the year. I think you can guess which one.
My good friend Lyndsey Hulen wrote a blog post recently that made me start thinking about this. She was writing about how she doesn’t like that our culture has started pushing Christmas before Thanksgiving, when Thanksgiving is important in and of itself. No, Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to rank up with prize holidays that celebrate Jesus’ birth or resurrection, but I want to make the case that God put Thanksgiving (in our country at least, maybe because our materialistic culture needs it the most) right where it needs to be on the calendar.
Christmas is about the gift of Jesus coming to this earth to save us from our sins, to make us right with God. Therefore, we give each other gifts in remembrance. Unfortunately, the gifts have a way of becoming bigger in our minds (especially in our kids’ minds) than the reason we give the gifts in the first place.
Enter Thanksgiving. The day before all the frenzy of shopping starts, the day before Black Friday itself, we have a chance to pause with family and/or friends and give thanks. This is not ultimately a time to thank friends or family for what they’ve done for us, but a time to thank God for His good gifts. If we are truly thankful and use Thanksgiving as a start for daily thankfulness, I believe we will handle the stress of preparing for Christmas much better. If we focus on thankfulness with our kids, I believe and hope they (and we) will handle all the gifts they will receive (the ones they like and the ones not so much) with better grace than usual. Instead of coming down with the gimmies after Christmas, maybe they’ll simply be more thankful for all they received. Maybe they’ll even start to share their gifts with others? Ok, maybe I’m pushing it, but I hope that daily thankfulness as a part of their lives will start to foster that sort of attitude as they grow.
A while back, I got the idea from another wise mother (I wish I could remember which one!) to start a thankfulness jar. Periodically, my kids and I write something for which we’re thankful on a strip of paper and put it in the jar (well, ours is actually a vase) on the kitchen table. We sign our names and leave it there. I’m hoping this is a small way to focus on thankfulness with my kids besides their nightly “thank yous” to God before bed. This week, I plan to pull them out and read the strips of paper with the kids and see what they’ve written over the year. Hopefully they’ll get the idea that we have heaps of blessings from God. In fact, hopefully I’ll get the idea, too, and remember it when I’m stressed about all the work I have to do on the house in the midst of the rest of life’s busyness. Hopefully you’ll remember it, too, starting this Thanksgiving!