I received a calendar reminder early this morning informing me Thanksgiving is one week away. I’ve got to tell you, I had the same reaction as if I was reminded I had a dentist appointment.

It was like an animal response deep within my brain. Instead of asking myself: Have I been flossing enough? Do I feel a cavity? I was asking: Have I been grateful? For what am I thankful?

You know you aren’t entering the season of Thanksgiving very well when gratitude feels like a chore. For a bit about the history and current practice of Thanksgiving, check out this link (here)

However, here’s where I am on Thanksgiving. I appreciate a day to pause and practice gratitude. Just as wearing red, white, and blue or a flag pin on the Fourth of July doesn’t make me more patriotic, neither does watching football and eating turkey make me more grateful. Like anything, I’m not going to make a change without practice. Let our practice of gratitude begin (resume?) on Thanksgiving.

I also know that not everyone has the privilege to push pause, take a day from work. One nice thing about Thanksgiving is you can celebrate any day that works for you and your loved ones.

This year my family is spending Thanksgiving with some good friends. We will share some delicious food. Watch some football. Play a few games. Break out the record player. Clean up together. Tell some stories. And make some new memories. (Do I feel a tradition coming on?)

Here’s how you might practice gratitude on Thanksgiving (and every other day):

-If someone else normally does all the cooking, lend a hand preparing the meal

-If you are normally the Captain of the Kitchen, let willing helpers lend a hand

-Make sure the person who made the meal isn’t the one cleaning it all up

-Turn off the TV when it’s time to eat

-Invite a neighbor over

-Share leftovers with a neighbor whose family celebrated on a different day

-Serve a meal to people in need at a local agency

-Keep a gratitude list all year long

Finally, a prayer that captures mixed feelings of Thanksgiving…

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Diana Butler Bass

God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.

But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.

We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.

We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.

We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.

We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.

We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.

We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.

God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.

Thus, with you, and with all those gathered at this table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.

We choose thanks.

Amen.

With gratitude 🙂

Pastor Mike