Gratitude

It’s November 1st, and if you’ve been on social media today, you’ve probably seen a lot of posts about the start of Christmas season, even though December is still a full month away. At the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, I have to say, the jump from “Spooky Season” to “Holiday Season” is jarring for me, because there’s a whole other national holiday in the middle that seems to get ignored until the day before it happens, when people are calling the Butterball hotline wondering how to defrost a turkey in 4 hours. I’ve always wondered why is it like this? Where is the disconnect to Thanksgiving?

To find the answer, I look at the word itself: Thanksgiving, defined as “the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefit or favors.” Something every single self-help guru preaches on the necessity of, yet the message gets lost in the cacophony of busyness, while we try to accomplish all our “want to’s” and “ought to’s” along with our “have to’s.” The fact is, we’re in November, and the chances of having accomplished all that we resolved to do this year are low. When we fall off the wagon in February, we tell ourselves we have plenty of time left in the year, and then in the Summer we tell ourselves we deserve a break and we can get back to it after vacation, and in the fall we get sucked into the busyness of the 4th quarter, or back to school, and when the fog flowing from the punchbowl at our Halloween party dissipates, all we have left is 2 months of the year remaining and a pile of regret for all the things we haven’t done. It’s no wonder so many of us move straight onto the colorful lights of Christmas, while we try to purchase enough gifts to make up for the time we didn’t spend with friends or family this year.

I’ve shared recently that I’m in a season for disappointment, which means instead of looking at a pile of regret over things I didn’t get done, I’m looking at a pile of things I tried to do that didn’t work out. Yet since denying Despair’s narrative that this is how things will always be, and taking back my power to affect change, I can’t help but notice this uncontrollable sense of gratitude I occasionally experience, which makes itself known in the most benign moments. One time, while making copies at work, I was suddenly overcome with thanks that I have a job; but not just a job, one that I like and I’m good at; Not just one that I’m good at, but one with colleagues that are like family. Another time, when my kids were watching TV before bed, my heart was filled with gratitude that we have a space of comfort to rest in at the end of the day; but not just a space of comfort but also abundance; not just abundance of things, but abundance of love, consideration and so much laughter.

This “gratitude snowball” reminds me a lot of a song sung at Passover called, “Dayenu,” which means, “it would have been enough.” The song details God’s miraculous works and goodness, each line building off specific individual acts, snowballing into appreciation for God’s lovingkindness as a whole. When I allow my gratitude to snowball, I am reminded that goodness is not a singular random occurrence, but that which compounds and builds up on itself, forming something beautiful.

I challenge you this month to build gratitude snowballs every day, and reflect on how the seemingly little bits of goodness in your life pack together and create something substantially valuable and praiseworthy. Today, November 1st, I’m thankful for you, my readers. Not just that you read my work, but that you let it take root in your heart; Not just that it takes root in your heart, but that you let it draw you closer to Jesus. In doing so, you give eternal meaning to what I have to share, and I am so grateful.

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