I remember Thanksgiving holidays from my childhood fondly. All my mom’s sisters with their children (my cousins) and their husbands along with my grandparents and occasionally a friend or two would pack into my parents’ home and all spend the night the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The sound of football on the TV, the smells coming from the kitchen, monopoly with my crazy aunt until 1am and the sheer joy of just being together stick out in my mind. I always looked forward to these days.
Things are now different. I live far away from my family and two of my cousins live far away as well. My kids are now the age I remember being. And though last year, we were able to be in Tennessee with our families, this year we are at home in Arizona.
Perhaps your Thanksgiving holidays were not the joyous occasions they seem to be for so many others. For many people times like Thanksgiving can be quite painful. Memories of divorce, absentee parents, or family turmoil can make one cringe when they remember holidays like Thanksgiving.
But for those of us who live far away from family or for those of us with painful memories of the holidays, here’s a challenge? I want to encourage you to seize this Thanksgiving holiday perhaps, in a different way than you have before. While there isn’t anything wrong with some Netflix binging or cheering on your favorite football teams, consider how God could use you to make Thanksgiving joyous for someone else. In addition to making a list of all the things you are thankful for, you can actually help someone else make their list by giving them something to be thankful for.
There are so many things you can do. Here’s something simple we did last night. Susan, the kids and I grabbed six milkshakes and delivered them to people from our church that each live alone. They all happen to live in the same complex, but alone in their individual apartments. Some of them are homebound and rarely ever get out. Our kids loved it! The way they skipped to each apartment, you’d think they were running to the next ride at Disneyland. When the individuals came to the door our kids shouted “Happy Thanksgiving” in a way that sounded similar to their “trick or treat” shouts just a few weeks ago. Our kids felt real compassion for the people we visited. They were experiencing the truth that
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
One commented about how it seemed sad for the people to live alone. He really began to connect the dots as we shared with him what the bible says in James 1:27
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…”
So what kind of Thanksgiving are you going to have?
Here’s a challenge to you. Regardless of how close you live to family and regardless of how painful Thanksgiving holidays may have been for you growing up, you can have an amazing Thanksgiving this year. Don’t just make your own list of all the things you are thankful for – become someone else’s list! Give others a reason to be thankful this year! Who know’s maybe you’ll start your own family tradition!