Be Alone. Thanksgiving is a good day to be together and it is an important day to be alone. The pressure of guests and kitchen can make it difficult to really find the deeper levels of gratitude without a little silence or at least quiet. Be especially kind and help make sure your spouse, friends, kids and others get time to leave the house and go for a walk. Be present today to yourself and to God so you can be present to others.
Welcome Help. Need people. Elsewhere I have written about the importance of welcoming the gifts of others as well as how gratitude itself can transform us. Thanksgiving is a great day to reach out to people, especially to those who don’t often have their gifts recognized or welcomed, to bring who they are to the table. Brainstorm as a family what this might look like. “Stephen likes to draw, maybe we should ask him for a drawing to hang next to our table.” Maybe loosening your grip on your sense of tradition and perfection, might surprise you with unexpected gifts from others. Worry more that everyone plays a part.
Contemplate Your Unmet Needs or Weaknesses. It is totally counterintuitive but if you think about it there is hardly a better day than to have a brief moment of acknowledging challenges. This does not mean obsess, worry about, or try to fix your problems. It means that once I have a spirit of gratitude I can look with hope on things in my life that aren’t as they should be. Imagine for a moment that you will look differently on those same things next Thanksgiving. There is no better day than a day of abundance to frame your fears in a new light.
Pray for Your Enemies. We hate to even think about people or groups of people we might consider enemies. You don’t have to over think this. There is nothing to figure out today. Just offer up others to grace. Enemies are made of of hatred and fear, both of which are seated in the conviction that there is not enough of something to go around: scarcity. There is not enough food, not enough money, not enough love, not enough attention, not enough land. Today there is enough. Leave everything else to God.
Hope. Especially if we have taken time to see how excessively beautiful life is, we can then to begin to believe the unthinkable good about the future. The end of world hunger? World peace? Why not?
True gratitude leads us to a place of both hope and trust. Thanksgiving is an incredible opportunity to begin to set aside fears, scarcity and cynicism in exchange for the possibility of become a little bit more like the people who think ‘the impossible’ is juts going to take a little longer than expected. I think the best moments of human history began with giving thanks. Every supper, after all, is the Lord’s.
Sit with the Surprises: How finding out you are wrong can bring great hope.