The Attitude of Gratitude!
I love the fact that our country has a holiday that celebrates the heartfelt attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude! At least, that seems to be the intent of President Abraham Lincoln when he set aside a day during the Civil War in 1863 for our country to celebrate “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” (direct quote).
Even though our country is not in the middle of a civil war, after all these years our world continues to be embroiled in wars of chaos and terror. A ‘Day’ of “Thanksgiving” continues to be a necessary reminder of forgotten blessings. Expressing gratitude and remembering things to be thankful for in the midst of life’s challenges help us gain a better perspective.
My perspective on life began to change many years ago. In the midst of deep personal pain, I was encouraged to keep a ‘Thankfulness Journal”. The goal of my journal was to write down each day the things I am thankful for, including the good and the bad – the good because it was indeed good and the bad for what good could come from it. Journaling daily over a period of time caused a genuine and honest heart of gratitude to develop and grow. My thankfulness journal created in me a sincere humility as I realized afresh that who I was and who I was becoming were due to the sacrifice of love, commitment and time that others had poured into my life. Grandparents, parents, other family members, friends, pastors, teachers and coaches have all played a role in making my life worthwhile, meaningful and purposeful.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for many reasons! Growing up we would often travel to my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Gus’s home in Fort Worth, Texas. My cousin and I would decorate the table for Thanksgiving with the colorful leaves and berries surrounding their home. We would rake leaves and jump in them and often go to Six Flag Over Texas – an amusement park of the funnest kind! I remember it being a holiday that included incredible food with all the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin and pecan pies we could eat! It was a time of watching football on television, playing card games and staying up late reading comic books and dreaming up Christmas wish lists.
Today, my husband and I enjoy inviting international students into our home for them to experience their first Thanksgiving dinner! We recently moved the furniture out of our home, smoked 5 turkeys on our smoker, spread out tables and chairs throughout our dining and living room, and fed 54 international and American students and families. The children acted out a Thanksgiving skit to explain some of the history and traditions of Thanksgiving. Many of us shared from our hearts what we are thankful for and why. We enjoyed a hike in the West Fork of Oak Creek with the students and American friends. Then we celebrated our feast and fun of Thanksgiving all together.
YES – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! May we remember all our gifts, blessings and people who have made our lives so rich, full and purposeful! From our home to yours, may you have a wonderful heartfelt Thanksgiving!
From Jacki and Leslie: “Happy Thanksgiving!”
By Leslie Crawley, Assistant to Jacki Tait