This week, one of my neighbors transformed his yard to a winter wonderland. Not from real snow—we don’t have any—but let’s just say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Icicle lights hang from the eaves, plastic candy canes line the walk, and grapevine polar bear, complete with Santa hat, decks the front yard.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a little too soon.
I’m not guiltless in holding off until Black Friday to do anything Christmas-related. I started shopping weeks ago (who can afford to do it all in December?). My husband bought some outdoor lights before Halloween, before they sold out like they have the last two years. Retailers may get a bad rap for putting out Christmas merchandise in October, but I’ve done my part to make it profitable for them.
I was surprised, however, to find nothing Thanksgiving-related this week in my favorite all-purpose store. No turkey napkins, no harvest-y wreaths, nothing. Maybe I missed the end-cap.
Thanksgiving may have fallen off the holiday map, but that doesn’t mean we can’t insist on keeping it in our hearts. Despite our circumstances, we’ve all received blessings from God, and we are supposed to praise and thank Him.
Some of us endure unemployment, however. Or poor health. Wayward kids. Older parents. Skyrocketing expenses. Loneliness. Grief. Depression.
I get it. Sometimes I feel like crawling in a cave of blankets and not surfacing for a while. But the Bible tells us that despite our circumstances, we should still give thanks. On my roughest days, I have to force myself to think of things I’m thankful for. And gratitude has a sneaky way of getting us to focus on the positives, and what we have, rather than what we don’t have.
Family. Friends. The freedom to worship without fear. An encouraging teacher or pastor. The vibrant crimson leaves of a Chinese Pistache in autumn. Getting through the day. Whipped cream melting into hot chocolate. Cable TV. The silent beauty of a neighbor's icicle lights, even if they're up before we think they should be.
Whatever you’re thankful for, why not tell God—and a friend—what they are? And then, try to make an attitude of gratitude a habit that lasts the whole year long.