There is this pumpkin still sitting on our porch and a boy who thinks we can carve it up, pull out some superhero garb and have a re-do of that holiday with all the candy. He’s drawn the face on it already and, if I will go get the knife, he’s sure we can call tomorrow Halloween again.
Another boy sits next to him, still sneaking Halloween’s loot, but working hard on a list a mile long for that guy at the North Pole.
And, I stand in the middle, sweeping out leaves that have blown in from the windy cul-de-sac. “Guys, no, it is time to give thanks.”
The little one looks up from the pumpkin, “Oh yeah, next is that holiday where everyone comes over and we eat a rooster with the Indians and we have pie. I like that holiday, it’s a good one. Can I dress up as Batman?”
What? Roosters and Batman for Thanksgiving?
It seems he cannot put a name to this holiday sandwiched between the candy feasting and holiday list-making. This holiday that demands our gratitude, but then propels us forward into the season of gift giving.
What is it about Thanksgiving that causes us to look backward or forward, but never right at the place where we are standing?
“What are you thankful for this year?” I ask.
They play along, “This house, Gatorade, our friends, Daddy’s old car, teachers, God, Jesus, basketball . . .” Their lists cover a lot of ground, momentarily reassuring me that they get it.
“But how come we can’t make a new jack o’ lantern?”
The questions start; the lists are done.
“X-Box, Mom, that’s the only thing we want Santa to bring us this year. Can you have a talk with him about video games?”
Their voices trail off. They are done giving thanks; done with their lists of happy things. And it stops me in my tracks. Because my heart recognizes itself in this reflection.
I am an expert at the lists of things for which I am grateful: the good, the shiny, the sweet.
I say thank you and am humbled for the blessings that fill my days.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. (James 1:17)
Easy, gentle thank you’s rain down for these.
But. A friend calls to say her job is gone and another that her marriage is right broken. And I struggle hard in a dear relationship, hurt and angry.
What about this stuff of life? Into what column on the “thankful-for list” do we place these things? How do we spin them and pin them onto the brightly colored turkey feathers?
I take the halting hurt of my friend’s words and the promise that God will make it good. I attempt to straighten the uneven circumstances of our places and search for the point. But it falls flat, and is this really how we are called to be thankful?
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
In all circumstances — the lost job, the broken marriage, the hurting relationship? I struggle with how to give thanks in those places.
I need to twist and squeeze the hard out of life before I give thanks.
Because seriously, my ordinary Wednesday, the lost job, the whiny kids, the shattered relationship — look right at those and say thank you?
God whispers this reminder slowly: Jesus will be called Immanuel — which means God is with us.
Immanuel in the shiny and delightful, and Immanuel in the broken and upside down. God with us. We do not have to find the good. He is the good.
So can I say it, hushed and quiet in the hard? Thank you.
The boys run out into the blustery day, and that old pumpkin with his crooked smile and rotten spots is left on my Thanksgiving table amidst the finely crafted china and the silver. Entirely out of place, but there he stays.
Because life is just like that; glorious and muddled, lovely and rotten all falling together into the same moment.
And that’s where I want to stand this year. Real and honest, in the middle of the way things just are, with the roosters, the Batmans, and the pie — giving thanks for it all.Leave a Comment
Joanna @ Modern Ruth Project says
I absolutely loved this! Thanks so much for your words of comfort to each one of us. I am sure for those early Pilgrims they had many reasons to not give thanks to God and yet they still did. The problems remain eternal – death, loss, grief – and so should our willingness to turn around and bless God for what we do have. Thank you!
Thanks Joanna! I am glad that it blessed you. It is hard to give thanks when things don’t go well. But God is faithful and giving thanks anyway often changes us in ways we never expect. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Keri Siegel says
Thank you for sharing this post. My name is Keri Siegel. I am in an economic hardship right now. Additionally, I must say that your post particularly ministered to me because it was the Friday before Thanksgiving eight years ago that I lost my dad. As I was sitting here reading your post, it truly ministered to me because I have been very depressed this week, and the last two days I have been crying a lot— thinking about how much I miss my dad, wishing he was here and how different my circumstances would be if he was still with us. I know, that’s selfish thinking because he being Jewish found his Messiah on his deathbed. My best friend and I had the honor of leading him into The Kingdom of God. Still, I lost everything except my faith in Jesus so I can’t help but think how different my life would be with him here, especially at this time of year. I miss him so much. My best friend, who I usually have Thanksgiving with suddenly had to cancel because something happened in her family and she has to go out of town. So, I don’t know where I’m going. She told me yesterday. So, that made me more depressed. I was thinking I was going to end up alone for Thanksgiving. This post reminded me that I’m never really alone because I have Jesus. He is Emmanuel— God With Us. Praise God! Even if no one else is with me. He is! I can do this. It may hurt, but I can do this. Thank you. God bless you!
Oh Keri! Sending many prayers your way right now, my friend! I am thankful that God used my words to encourage you. Hold tight to Jesus. So thankful that you were able to share Jesus with your dad. What a gift!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I admit I let out a hearty laugh at Thanksgiving being about a rooster….and can I dress up as Batman? Out of the mouths of babes. Our society further enforces this notion. Halloween can be commercialized (there’s costumes and candy to be sold), and Christmas, well that’s a regular bonanza. But Thanksgiving, how do you make a buck off that notion?? Perhaps that’s all the more reason we NEED to celebrate Thanksgiving. As you pointed out – the verse says to give thanks IN all things, not FOR all things. I know that when my heart is at its lowest, its most cynical, its most weary state, I NEED to look for things to be thankful for because God says so, but because it’s also therapeutic for me. Even when we can offer up nothing but groans, if we can muster thanking God for His faithfulness, or thanking God for His Son who died for me/us…it enters….into my darkest place… a ray of hope. It shines. Even the slightest bit of light can cast out darkness. I have visions of your son in his batman gear sitting at the dining room table. Thanks for this real post…
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving,
So glad that this encouraged you Bev! Yes– my little guy says some crazy stuff! He keeps us on our toes. Love your words about being thankful— so true! Blessings on your Thanksgiving as well!
I am working hard on giving Thanks. My brother passed away in May. We always spent holidays together.
My family says we must have Thanksgiving, I say “I can’t, it’s not right”. My heart says “no”, no matter how hard I try.
I feel like I’m letting everyone down.
Oh Linda! Sending prayers of comfort your way. Hold fast to Jesus and let him heal your heart. Praying for you and your family!
my condolences as well Linda. I pray that God carries you through the grieving season, coming out on the other side filled with wonderful memories of your brother and no longer weeping eyes. speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. my mom passed away 9 years ago and she was my BEST friend. God is with you and your family. there is no right or wrong way to handle special days during the grieving season as everyone internalizes these events differently. whatever you choose to do, CLING to y our family and friends during this season who can help you pray through your loss. God bless you all.
Oh Linda! The year of ‘firsts’ is awful! It’s impossible to believe but it will get easier. God shines in our darkness!
Several years ago I lost my godmother. (My family is strangely made up of technically half sisters but we never considered ourselves as such and my godmother was semi-related). We were all together most holidays but our birthdays were only a week apart, so we celebrated together every year. The first few birthdays without her were rough but I KNOW if I was the one that passed I would still want her to celebrate our day and think of the good times we’d shared. We haven’t forgotten her, we still miss her, we’ve even switched up a few of the traditions, but we are blessed for what she brought to our lives. Happy Thanksgiving, and celebrate and remember your brother for the blessing he was!
(((Linda))) Hugs and prayers.
Linda I am so sorry for the loss of your brother! God bless you and your family. May Jesus bring you and your family comfort and peace during this time. Sending hugs and love ❤️
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
– Psalm 34:18 NIV
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:7 NIV
Beth Williams says
Sweet Linda- prayers for peace and comfort for your weary soul and your family! Hold steadfastly to Jesus for He is always with you! I know it can be hard to carry on with Thanksgiving, but being with people can help you heal. I feel your brother would love to see you enjoying family time together. Use this time to celebrate the life of your brother.
I understand the loss of a loved one and navigating the holidays. It was tough when mom died 9 years ago. My in-laws graciously invited my dad over for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He came both times. It wasn’t so much about the celebration, as him being alone. Praying for you to feel God in your heart and home these holidays.
You are an artist of words. . .this is such an honest and beautiful peep into your life. It reflects such reality the good bad and ugly that we weave through and suggests we skip instead of trudge through difficulties not because they are easy or fun but simply because we are never alone.
Thanks Eunice! Love knowing that God is present in it all— changes how we see it. And you are right we are never alone! Blessings on your day and thanks for reading!
thank you for your heartfelt, real, and poignant post. oftentimes believers may find it difficult to make kingdom living principles ‘practical’ and useful for everyday life circumstances. “thank you” for providing a real life example of how regardless of how our circumstances may change, we can still be thankful. I especially love the phrase ‘we do not have to look for the good, HE is the good’. to God be all the glory!
Glad that it encouraged you! I agree that many times we are simply told to be thankful and it makes no sense–I believe that God wants to be in our real life and walk with us in real ways! Thank you for your words as well! Blessings!
In this and for this I give thanks. I’m in a season where giving thanks is hard. I blame myself for being here. I pray without hope, I’m thanking God yet not thankful. I am flooded with embarrassment, shame, guilt, self-loathing, sadness, fear,and (despite my heart saying different) a sense of loneliness because I feel God is mad at me for causing this predicament. This post and other comments cracked the shell that is covering my heart and the slightest ray of hope came thru. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for that I give, stand-in, walk with a thank you Lord in my situation. Thank you.
My friend, know this, God loves you wherever you are. His love can break into any situation and heal you. Praying that he does that. Praying that you see Jesus with you and know your Father’s love regardless of your circumstances. Prayers for you this season.
Beautiful, Leigh. 🙂 Love this. Thanks for sharing. Was great to meet you earlier this month! ((Hug))
Hi Brenda!! So fun to meet you as well! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Beautifully said! Thank you! ❤️
Thank you for this good reminder. I am in a rough season and there are times when all I can say is “thank You that You are with me.” That really is the greatest gift. His faithful love.
Amen! Praying for the season that you are in!
Phyllis Williamson says
Psalm 103- challenged to memorize this by another post I read. Verse 4-5 in HCSB He redeems your life from the pit He crowns you with faithful love and compassion… He satisfies you with goodness ….your youth is renewed like the eagle…. Thankful – being satisfied with Him I am learning- not this circumstance
This Psalm 103 – I pray I will go there and stay every November for the rest of my life.
….. Satisfied with Immanuel – Jesus …. God with me
Love this real-life, hurt-hunger for Him. God with us…always…no matter the circumstance. Sometimes I scratch my head, trying to find thanksgiving in the hurts but reminded in the hurt blossoms life: His life. Thank you for the real. Happy Thanksgiving…Happy Thanks-Heart.
Greer Oharah says
Exactly. What an excellent reminder for me to hear this morning. Thank you.
Glad that it encouraged you!!
What a wonderful reminder to be thankful for the here and now, often amidst the messiness of motherhood : ) I also have three sons and expect to have a cowboy or two show up to thanksgiving dinner. Immanuel is one of my favorite names of God that brings me such comfort. Your words were an encouragement to me!
Thank you for this. It was beautiful and really touched me. Life is definitely glorious and muddled!
Sorry we didn’t get to meet at H*W last month because I’m sure we would be fast friends. Blessings to you.
Oh yay! A fellow Hope*Writer!! Yes, so sorry that we didn’t connect at the Workshop! Glad that it was encouraging to you! Prayers for an excellent week of Thanksgiving for you and your family!
Beth Williams says
Great post and reminder to be thankful IN ALL things. When going through a crisis it is often hard to be thankful for anything. I know in my heart that if nothing else I have Jesus and HE WILL get me through it! Like you when I get down or depressed I run to my computer and make a list of ALL items I’m thankful for from big ones such as Jesus, Holy Spirit to little ones like electricity, & pens, paper, etc. It makes me realize how blessed I am.
I am also saddened by the commercialism of the holidays. It seems fall just comes and then it’s all about Halloween with the candy and costumes. Thanksgiving should be celebrated next with each one giving thanks for what we have. Instead all the stores head for Christmas. It’s all about what you want, buy this, that, etc. We are losing the art of being thankful. Young people don’t even know the real story of how Thanksgiving came about.