If you think of technology and Thanksgiving, what comes immediately to mind?
You might think of watching football on some giant screen of a million pixels. Or you might think of the technology that enables you to fly a long distance to be back with your family. Maybe the tech that enriches your Thanksgiving is the ability to talk long distance with loved ones, or Skype with them, or share videos of your children with their grandparents. If the kitchen is your domain on Thanksgiving Day, you probably envision your oven, filled with turkey and pumpkin pie, or perhaps your food processor busy making mashed potatoes.
Now, if you’re a low tech kind of person, you may think of technology mainly as a detriment to Thanksgiving. The blaring TV precludes creative conversation among family members. The proliferation of hi-tech kitchen tools seems to diminish the participatory and communal joy of cooking. And Skyping with your loved blurry loved ones, whose words and mouth are out of sync, feels worse than an old fashioned long distance call.
In the last few days, technology has been enriching my season of Thanksgiving. Yes, yes, I know that the actual holiday is still a week and a half away, but I have often decided to make November into a month for gratitude. (Check out my blog series, “Thanksgiving: Not Just a Day, But a Season.”) This year, I was reflecting on how much I take my life for granted and how easily I focus on what’s wrong with life rather than what’s right and wonderful. So I decided to do something to change my attitude and my practice. And I decided to let technology be my helper.
What I did was simple. I used the Reminders program on my Mac to set up a series of reminders throughout the day. (I’m sure the Windows world has some similar program.) Nothing fancy here. Just a reminder at 10:00 a.m. that says, “How is God blessing me right now?” At 1:00 p.m., I see a bit of a Bible verse, “always giving thanks.” And so forth every three hours, until 10:00 p.m., when my reminder reads, “What gifts have I received today?”
My little experiment in tech-inspired gratitude has been going on for a week and a half. I have tried hard not to simply dismiss each reminder, but instead to take a moment and reflect on the gifts of that moment. I thank God for things I would usually have taken utterly for granted. Several times, my reminders have appeared in the middle of some very difficult event. Yet, even then, it’s been good to consider how God is blessing me even when my life feels hard.
I’m sharing my little experiment in gratitude with you now, rather than waiting until Thanksgiving proper, because you might like to join me in it. You don’t even need to be hi-tech, really. You could put little notes on your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, your car dashboard, your desk at work, and your dog. (Well, maybe not your dog.) One way or another, let me invite you to join me in an enlarged and enriched season of Thanksgiving.