Want a guaranteed better Thanksgiving? Perhaps even the best Thanksgiving ever?
I actually believe Thanksgiving may be one of the most “Christian” holidays we can celebrate. As followers of Christ, we are to give thanks always – and in every situation. We have reason to be thankful continually. This world, as it is today, is not our permanent home. We are going to live forever – in a perfect place – with our perfect God.
Even today, in the midst of all that is in our world, our God is on His throne – JESUS IS ALIVE – and we are loved with an everlasting love. We have access to peace, which surpasses understanding.
All that is enough, right?
But let’s face it, Thanksgiving is hard for some people. They’ve lost loved ones. They are lonely. Another day-off watching everyone celebrate how wonderful their life is online only makes it harder.
This has been an especially hard year for some. We’ve been more divided as a people than any year I remember. Some people simply don’t feel as “blessed” this year – perhaps even as thankful.
Others are so caught up in having the perfect meal and the perfect table setting – the house decorated just right – they get distracted with busyness and end up disappointed rather than enjoying some of the greatest blessings around them.
Then there are those of us who simply take things for granted and fail to stop and truly be thankful.
Here’s a checklist of activities, which will make your world look brighter and your holiday grander. I’m convinced so much I’d almost guarantee you. You may not be able to do all of them. I would encourage you to complete the ones you can.
How to have the best Thanksgiving ever:
Read Psalm 136.
Slowly. Maybe even aloud. Maybe a couple of times. Let the words dwell in you for a while. Make the words a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Trust me on this.
Make a thankful list.
We used to do this as a family tradition when our boys were at home. I wrote about this in a previous POST, but one of the best ways to fill your heart with gratitude is to make a list of things for which you are thankful. When you reflect on the things you do have – rather than the things you don’t have – your heart grows in appreciation.
Spend time with family and friends.
You may not be able to be with them in person – and this is one of the harder parts of holidays for some, but even exchanging a text with someone you love can brighten your day. Reach out to some you haven’t heard from in a while. We all know how to Zoom these days.
If you are mourning over someone special this year – spend some time remembering why they are special to you. (Even write some of the things you remember and loved about the person. It can be a healthy grieving process.)
And, if I may be so bold, some reading this are grieving so hard for someone they lost they fail to enjoy the people they still have around them. I suspect the one you lost would want you to still enjoy life.
Sometimes we have to build new relationships even while we are mourning old relationships. Maybe you need to volunteer somewhere or open your heart to some new relationships. Be a friend so you can feel the love of a friend again. We are made for relationships. That almost always takes a risk of heart and an intentionality on our part.
Smiling does something inside of you and always makes an impact on people around you. The ability to smile or not is almost always a reaction to a perspective. How’s your perspective this year? Sometimes a perspective check can change your attitude – the way you feel – everything.
Remember, as I wrote previously, Jesus is alive. The Gospel is good news! For the believer, our future is secure – and wonderful. Paul wrote these were “light and momentary troubles” and they were “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Think on that thought and you’ll have to at least grin.
(If you’re reading this and there has never been a time in your life where you surrendered your heart to Christ – I pray you will today. You don’t have to understand everything, it’s a faith decision, but the reality is we are all sinners, God is a holy God, and He loves us enough He sent His son to die for our sins. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9))
Make it your ambition today to be someone’s best smile! The world needs more smiles. A lot more smiles.
Give to others.
Not only can you do shopping online – you can give online to most churches, charities, and non-profits. There are lots of places you can serve others over the holidays. Most communities have numerous helping ministries always seeking volunteers and resources.
Giving is a catalyst for an internal smile. Giving releases hidden joy inside you which you can’t understand until you do. Paul credits Jesus with saying, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” The happiest, most content people I know are generous people.
If this one grabs your attention for more, listen to a message I did on this subject HERE.
Exercise, take a nap and drink some water.
This one may seem out of place in a list like this, but I’ve learned whenever I don’t feel well many times it is because I’m partially dehydrated. And, we all run at a fast pace of life. Taking some time to relax and catch up on your sleep may be the best gift you can give yourself for a better Thanksgiving. A
And you know you need to exercise, right? Even the smallest activity can make you feel so much better. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood or where people might be. It might be where you have the best chance to smile, be kind to someone, and perhaps even make a friend.
Think others first.
This may be the most important. For example, if you wear your feelings on your shoulders or you’re easily offended by what others did or didn’t do for you – you’ll have a miserable holiday. On the other hand, if you clothe yourself with an attitude of humility and consider others even before your own needs – the rest of this list will take care of itself. And, here’s the strange thing, you’ll be blessed as you do!
Don’t hold people to your expectations of performance. People almost NEVER perform as you expect them to do. Do you know why? Because they’re your expectations. Yours – not theirs. The less you set up the prescriptive way people will perform, what they will say, or how things will go, the more you can enjoy the way things actually happen. Because you already know this, no matter how much you prepare, no matter how much you hope things turn out just as you imagined them, life has a way of throwing us surprises. Enter into Thanksgiving with that understanding, and you’ll have the possibility of remaining thankful – regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen.
There are my suggestions for the best Thanksgiving ever. You may not be able to do all of them this year. The key is to complete as many as you can.