When I listen to the news these days, it seems there are countless reasons to boycott any sense of Thankfulness this year. War, pestilence, poverty . . . we don’t have to look far to see a suffering world.
On the other hand, thankfulness might provide our best glimmer of hope. It’s hard for bitterness and gratitude to dwell simultaneously in the same heart, so perhaps thankfulness is the best way to kick off a holiday season that culminates in the reminder than God left Heaven to be with us and make a way for us to spend eternity with Him.
Gratitude might be harder for some to develop than for others, for all kinds of reasons. Sooner or later we all have reason to grieve. But remember Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol? He didn’t have much to be thankful for, being raised in near-poverty and suffering a physical ailment. But his famous last words are what people remember, “God bless Us, Every One!” Somehow he possessed a soft heart even in the middle of a challenging life. Scrooge, on the other hand, had to be taught a lesson that softened his heart.
Developing a thankful heart can be an art, and for some people (anyone on the Scrooge spectrum) more effort is required. But even the sour pusses among us, if they can be urged into looking, can find something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s up to us to give someone a reason to try this thing called gratitude. Send a smile to someone who needs one; share a kind word (even with someone who doesn’t deserve it); give an anonymous gift to someone in need; pray for others; donate to or help out at a local food pantry. Generosity leads to a lighter heart, and lighter hearts can more easily hold gratitude.
If gratitude is born from a positive attitude, I suppose developing thankfulness is a bit like asking a pessimist to turn into an optimist, if only for one day a year. An impossible task? Perhaps, but isn’t it worth a try?
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