Every night just before prayers, we ask our kids what they are thankful for from that day. Most days this is an easy exercise but sometimes, it’s more like pulling teeth.
Their favorite PJs were dirty or they didn’t have time for a bubble bath or we wouldn’t let them eat cookies for dinner. Whatever happened last tends to color their view of the entire day. Those are the days we have to help them along by listing some suggestions for them.
- Earning a treasure box treat at school
- Eating blueberry muffins for breakfast
- Playing all afternoon with neighborhood besties
Begrudgingly, they agree to be thankful for at least something. It’s rarely big or exciting or out of the ordinary but fancy isn’t the point. Our simple goal is to help them find a reason to offer prayers of gratitude every day.
Even when their meanie parents refuse to let them have a sleepover on a school night.
Being Grateful During The Holidays
This time of year the “Thankful, Grateful, Blessed” wooden signs, “Gather” pillows, and all the pumpkin spice reminds us we should be thankful and we are blessed. But the hustle and bustle of the holidays creep up on us and before we know it, we’re knee deep in Fall Festivals, school Thanksgiving feasts, and Holiday cantatas.
All of it happening at a tearing-into-Christmas-presents sort of pace.
So we buy products we hope will help us be thankful this year. Pretty gratitude journals, felt Thankful Trees for our dining room wall, pumpkins for our fall decorations with Blessed written in fancy script letters.
We intend to be thankful. We try to slow down to write in our daily gratitude journals. We mean to put a leaf on our felt Thankful Tree.
But then life happens.
Those pretty journals stay empty, trees get one or two leaves but never fill up with color, the pumpkin hardly gets noticed.
We fail to do in our effort to be.
As that journal stares back at me before I turn off the light, I find myself acting a bit like my kids on those nights when the last thing they experienced wasn’t their ideal. I drift off to sleep kicking myself over failing to do when I meant to be. The entire day a complete waste.
I keep thinking, this year, I want to do it differently.
Maybe you too?
A Change This Year
What if we left the journals and trees on the shelf in the store? What if instead, we made this thing easier?
Let’s come like a child saying prayers before bed. Start by being thankful for something and prayerfully offer that something to God with a grateful heart.
- Lord, thank you for a productive meeting today
- Father, I am grateful for the roasted chicken at the grocery store. And that I didn’t have to cook it
- Jesus, thank you for sweet, watermelon-smelling, clean kiddos to read with tonight
It might not be easy. Especially during the busy, busting-with-obligations, full holiday season. But every day always holds something for which we can say thanks.
Maybe we just need to stop trying to do all the things meant to help us be thankful. Decide to go back to the simplicity of grateful prayers offered to our good and loving Father. Accept the worship of gratitude doesn’t need the fancy wrapping paper of a product we purchase.
And start with something.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalms 107:1 (NIV)