I heard someone say this week that one of their favorite holidays was Thanksgiving; I suppose I was surprised. Of course, being surprised I tried to decide why. Another wise person commented that department stores had not quite commercialized Thanksgiving. And I pondered the truth of that statement.
It is not easy to market thankfulness. Gratitude is a commodity which cannot be coerced; it is either present or not.
I am rethinking Thanksgiving.
I am thankful, so very thankful for:
Mid-term Grades. Posted on the fridge and shouted from the rooftops, in classrooms or across phone towers. More importantly I am so thankful for the incredible minds producing these grades.
Hugs. These have to be one of the best parts of life. When my husband and daughters and best friends hug me I am in a sweet, sweet spot.
Phone calls. My heart is blessed a thousand times over because my grown daughters call me almost every day. What a pleasure. What an honor.
My brother. I am thankful for the letter he carries in his wallet and for his voice on the phone.
Laughter. Absolutely one of the most phenomenal medications in the world. Cleansing, refreshing and invigorating.
Babies. Precious Tatem. Hosea from Bolivia, Silas, Wyatt, Steven, Jude, Olivia and sweet Sinclair. They renew and replenish something old and ancient inside me.
Co-workers. How blessed I am that both places I work are filled with incredible people. Talented, creative, energetic, concerned, intelligent, spiritual, eccentric and beautiful people.
Teaching. What an incredible, wonderful, frightening calling.
Friends. People you love and who love you.
Family. People doing life together—in whatever way you possibly can: emails, letters, phone calls, quick visits in between classes, moments grasped in the oddest of places, after church, sharing of food drawers, watching out for each others’ children, encouragement and accountability shared.
Home. I am thankful for this place I live—these walls and the contents. I am thankful for the three other people who live here. Thankful for the piano room and all the music that comes from it. Thankful for the kitchen—the heart of the house—my favorite space. Thankful that when I walk in and close the door behind me I enter a haven. A perfect one? No. A warm and safe one? Yes.
Prayer. Short cries for help. Long, pleading prayers for wisdom. Breaths and sighings for what I don’t even understand. Frustrated jabs of angst. Weary moans of being at the end of my strength, angry snaps of expectation. He hears and translates them. He answers them all. Yes, I said all. How I always want or ask? No. How I expect? No.
Contentment. Underrated and overlooked. I am content, and it is a delicious place.
Peace. Not as the world gives. Not the absence of trouble or struggle or conflict, but an inner steadiness in spite of these.
Hunger. Both spiritual and physical. I have been both in recent days. I have made myself wait until truly hungry before eating. Food, then, tastes so good. I have been spiritually hungry because I have forgotten and neglected to come to the table. Spiritual hunger is by far the keenest.
Intimacy. I have someone who knows me. Steve anticipates my thoughts and actions. He looks to me and says, “I see you; I love you.” And the statements are powerfully synonymous.
Change. It reminds us we are alive. Keeps us flexible. Enables us to work the muscle of our faith—otherwise, it would atrophy. Change produces a sharp and persistent edge in prayer. Change keeps us awake and alert. Change reduces the possibility of stagnancy.
My list could go on, but I will stop here. My heart is full.
My heart is full.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
May our Father pour out his richest blessings on you and yours—and may you recognize and acknowledge that all you have and are is a result of his grace and the abundance of his hands.