Walking through Target and the grocery store this week, I’ve noticed something: Thanksgiving seems to be missing from the shelf. Pumpkins and ghost napkins are 50% off, and the empty space that’s left is being filled with stockings and gingerbread. Out with goblins and pumpkins, in with Santa and stockings.
On the one hand, this is rather refreshing. After all, it’s kind of nice that Thanksgiving gets to slide in under the radar of “things you need to buy in order to celebrate.” On the other hand, it feels like the culture simply can’t be bothered with a culture centered around gratitude. There’s a lesson in there. If we want to foster a practice of gratitude, we’ll have to work to make it happen.We can’t just pick it up and put it in the cart, we’ll have to do some actual work.
November is a great month to focus on gratitude. Not only is Thanksgiving toward the end of the month, but the culture seems to be dumping glitter and evergreens on us, even if we’re not ready. Focusing on gratitude in November provides a slowing rhythm to our days. It gives us the opportunity to say “Not yet… not yet…” to all the twinkle lights and jingle bells.
There are many ways to incorporate gratitude in to the month of November (or, frankly, any month) but one of the easiest and most important is to simply ask “What am I thankful for?” Ask your friends or your spouse or children. Be surprised at what they say. We rotate family prayers at dinnertime and one of them is “Let’s all go around and say one thing we are thankful for.” Our oldest son, Clayton (age 5) often chooses that one. Last week when he did, his four year old brother said “I’m thankful that kids have kid scissors.” I asked what made him think of that and he said “I don’t know, I just like them.”
November starts in three days. Ready to take the challenge?