Appreciating what we have loosens our grasp on our pocket books, permitting generosity to flow out of our budgets in the form of gifts and baked goods. Appreciating what we have causes us to grip tighter the things that matter, so our doors open more widely with holiday invitations to friends and family, and we gather in churches aglow with candlelight to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s an intricate connection, these hand-in-hand companions of thanksgiving and joy. That’s why our Christmas theme for our family get-together this year was gratitude. This year, we simplified. We took time to enjoy the blessings of the season, we modified our menus, we made our gatherings more about the people than the gifts. And it was grand. It’s a mindset I want to linger beyond an extended theme.
Reading Malachi this morning, I saw the great chasm created by ingratitude. Israel questioned God about everything. Even His love. They’d returned from exile, they had their homeland again, but their hearts had failed to shift into thanksgiving for what they did have as they gazed, instead, upon what they yet desired. It was like the day-after-Christmas unhappiness that settles over those whose focus has been on what they acquired from the packages beneath the tree. While gratitude indeed makes room for joy, love, and generosity. The indulgence of dainty hors doeuvres, multiplied sumptuous meals, the growing pile of discarded gift wrap, and the frenzy of fitting it all in can suck out of the season all that gratitude provided. The lust for more points out what was not received—unless it is silenced by appreciation for what already is.
The voice of gratitude is the one I want to heed. As fireworks illuminate the sparkle of the new year, I want to remember the blessings of the old one. When February’s pink hearts overtake January’s blue snowflakes, and when May flowers grow out of April’s bright, yellow rubber boots, I want to be thankful. When the colors of patriotism give way to fall, I want to be appreciative, polishing off the gratitude that has been put to repeated use. This year, I want to see and hear and touch and smell and taste the blessings of every season. I plan to enjoy the wonderful gifts I already have and celebrate what God has lavishly given to me.
Tip/Tidbit: Make a list of 10 things for which you are grateful for today.