Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. I suppose it has something to do with nostalgia, happy memories, and a chance to enjoy a meal with loved ones. But I also delight in the basic food of the Thanksgiving table: turkey (both light and dark meat), gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and (fill in your favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal). I’m not sure I’d like to eat all of this every day. But, once a year, I luxuriate in the familiar, comforting, delectable dishes on our Thanksgiving table.
There’s a way to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner twice. No, I’m not referring to eating a turkey sandwich in the evening after the football games are over. And no, I’m not thinking of the leftovers that continue to gratify for days after the official holiday concludes. Rather, I’m thinking about how gratitude can enrich our experience of good things, like those things that fill our Thanksgiving tables.
For example, I love pumpkin pie. I only eat it about twice a year, on Thanksgiving and somewhere around Christmas. In my zeal for pumpkin pie, I could easily wolf down a piece quickly and then go about my business. But sometimes I linger, watching my fork cut through the moist pie, feeling the flakiness of the crust on my tongue, savoring the richness of the whipped cream topping. I consider that a bunch of people, from the pumpkin farmer to the baker, worked hard to make this pie so that I might enjoy it. When I slow down and pay attention, my delight increases dramatically.
Gratitude is like this. It’s a kind of slowing down. It’s attending to things rather than simply consuming them. It’s acknowledging our debts. Gratitude heightens our awareness of good things. It enables us, in a way, to enjoy them all over again.
Now, I don’t mean to say that the main reason for giving thanks to God is so that you and I might enjoy life more. Gratitude is due to the Lord for his sake and glory. But I do believe that when we pause long enough to thank God for his gifts, these gifts often become sweeter, and their sweetness lingers longer.
Of course, the gratitude that enables you to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner all over again isn’t something reserved for the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. No matter where you live, no matter which country you call home, no matter what day it is, intentional thanks will allow you to savor your life, enjoying it twice.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: If you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, what about it do you most enjoy? How about the traditional food of your Thanksgiving table? Do you experience gratitude as enriching your life?
PRAYER: Today, Lord, I want to thank you for the joy and benefits of giving thanks. Yes, we thank you because you deserve it. Politeness alone urges us to say thanks to you. When we do, we realize that all good gifts come from you, that we owe you everything. When we thank you, we’re reminded of your goodness.
And we enjoy your gifts even more. We pick them up and examine them. We savor them, letting their goodness melt on our tongues. Thanking you isn’t only something we should do because it’s right. It is also something that enriches our lives. Moreover, it opens our hearts to you. Thanks reminds us of how much you love us.
Such is your grace, Lord. In thanking you, we are blessed even more. Thank you! Amen.
This reflection appeared originally on The High Calling. It is used with permission.