As the holiday season approaches, do you find that looking at your calendar brings a sense of anxiety as you focus on the many to-do’s and get togethers that accompany this time of year? Unfortunately familiarity with the holidays has the potential to breed a lack of appreciation for what they truly stand for. As busy as this full and festive season can become, let’s look at a few ways we can change our mindsets into ones of appreciation and thankfulness this time of year.
As the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to drop we are reminded that the holidays are making their way into our lives again. Some years it’s as though Thanksgiving is almost skipped over entirely by its more popular successor Christmas, and it is with great intention that we must focus our minds towards giving thanks for all that God has given to us. Here’s some suggestions how.
1. LOOKING TO THE PAST
Most Americans know that the reason we observe Thanksgiving Day in the first place is to remember and honor those brave souls who first made the pilgrimage across the Atlantic and paved the way for this great country to become what it is today. We remember how they met and befriended the natives who lived here, and how those men and women taught the pilgrims how to survive. Since then our country has fought in countless wars, overcome depressions, and risen above seemingly impossible circumstances to remain a free and independent country. We look back with gratitude to the men and women who have served in the armed forces, to the leaders of our government, and more importantly to Almighty God who has blessed this nation. When we turn our eyes to history we can tell our children and our students of the provision, blessing, and faithfulness of God. Looking to the past provides us with countless reasons to count our blessings.
2. LOOKING AT THE PRESENT
Depending on where you find yourself at this moment, it may or may not be difficult to be thankful on your present path. In the midst of a challenging season it is imperative that we identify the good parts of our lives, for failure to do so can lead down a path that is dark and seemingly hopeless. We can also forget to be thankful when life is full of ease and comfort. Waking each day with a thankfulness for what God is going to do and laying down each night with gratitude for what He has done are wonderful ways to maintain a heart of thankfulness. Asking your children at the dinner table, in the car, or before bed what they are thankful for will help teach a mindset of being grateful. Keeping a ‘Thankful List’ in a visible part of the house with everyone’s items listed is another great way to keep the focus on being thankful in the present moment.
3. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Some people look so far to the future that it causes anxiety and fear, others don’t think to look at all, and still others have found the balance of planning for and praying about what’s to come without borrowing the worries that tomorrow can bring. The key to being thankful while looking ahead is perspective. What lens are you looking through? Looking only through your own eyes, someone else’s expectations, or even through that of your children can make it difficult to be thankful for the great unknown. After all, how can you be thankful for something that hasn’t even happened yet? When you know and trust the One who holds the future it is easier to be thankful for whatever comes into your life. Take the opportunities that come to teach your children the value of looking ahead with a perspective of thankfulness.
The secret of having an attitude of gratitude is to put others’ needs before your own. That may seem backward and it’s definitely not what our culture preaches, but it is absolutely true. Living our lives in service to God and others will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to not only our own lives but to those around us. When we make these practices apart of our routines we are also teaching our children by example. Don’t let the stress or the long list of to-dos rob you of your joy and thankfulness this year. Here’s to a season full of good memories and remembering that we all have much to be thankful for.