Ready or not, the holidays are upon us, and it’s time to give thanks. Although we Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving off and on since the autumn of 1621, Thanksgiving did not become a federal holiday until 1870 when Congress established the first four federal holidays—New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
We generally associate Thanksgiving as the beginning of the holiday season, replete with traditions. I imagine that when we think of a “traditional Thanksgiving,” most of us think about food—turkey and dressing (unless you’re one of those heathens who eats stuffing), gravy and mashed potatoes, sweet potato and green bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin and pecan pies. The menu may vary depending on your location, but Thanksgiving is generally a keto nightmare.
Aside from the glorious food, Thanksgiving traditions may also include gathering with family and friends, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, carb-loading in preparation for Black Friday shopping, Christmas decorating, and football.
Our tradition includes spending the day at my brother’s house in Georgia, and then returning home to watch “A Christmas Story.” I’ve broken with tradition this year, and I’ve already decorated for Christmas—it’s been a long year and I needed the Christmas spirit a couple of weeks early. The Publix Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers sit comfortably next to the Santa salt and pepper shakers, and the Nativity display has already appeared on the mantel. Don’t judge me.
As Christians, we should continually be thankful for God’s mercy and grace. Even the researchers at Harvard Medical School know that there are benefits to being thankful:
Regardless of which way gratitude is expressed, it is a tool that can be cultivated and strengthened over time with practice. In other words, you can build your gratitude muscle by consciously choosing to be more grateful, and thereby you will be happier.
Although it probably took the Harvard geniuses a couple of years and a great deal of cash to reach this conclusion, most of us already knew that thankful people are happier people.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he tells them (and us) to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Although we are instructed to pray continually, for some reason, the holiday season makes us take stock of what we’re grateful for. My prayer is that I remember to be grateful 365 days a year. I challenge you to do the same, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Psalm 106:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
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