Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Be Thankful

As a new blogger, I’m feeling pressure to write a thankfulness post.  In fact, by Facebook standards, I’m already 27 days behind.  Neither my reluctance to write this post nor my 27 day silence stems from a lack of thankfulness but rather a lack of holiday enthusiasm.  This isn’t a newsflash to those of you who know me well, but those who don’t may find it surprising.  One would expect an outgoing, hospitable, generally happy elementary school teacher who loves God and her friends and family to also love the holidays.  But I don’t.  
The truth is that I teach fourth grade rather than a lower grade partly because it doesn’t require decorating the room seasonally or preparing construction paper crafts.  While my students are counting down until Christmas, I’m counting down until AFTER Christmas when my life can return to “normal.”  My life is busy during the other eleven months of the year, but during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas it blows past busy right to bedlam.  Some would say that my lack of holiday enthusiasm is aggravated by a lack of my own children, and that is probably true to some extent, but I also don’t know how you folks with kids even survive the holiday season considering how it leaves me feeling.
Up until today, I’ve been in a little bit of denial that the next month is upon us.  I haven’t bought the first gift, ordered cards, or decorated my house.  As a matter of fact, I’m still debating whether or not to put up a Christmas tree this year.  I know that my state of blissful avoidance will come to an abrupt end tomorrow as soon as my sweet grandma puts the turkey on the table.  From then on, it will be full speed ahead until January.  I will attend every event, purchase all the right gifts, help plan the perfect parties and activities at church and at school, order and send the cards, and maybe even decorate my house.  Hopefully, I’ll manage to do most of it with a (genuine) smile on my face.  But today, I am thankful for one more day of normal before the bedlam sets in. 
Every year, I say that I’m going to be more enthusiastic about the holidays.  I’ve tried planning different activities with my class, at church, with friends and family… buying different decorations… trying new recipes… buying glitzy sweaters…  and one year I even tried listening to holiday music (yes, that’s rare for me).  I can’t say that any of it has worked particularly well and this year I’ve been feeling a little desperate for a new perspective.  Tonight, at our Thanksgiving service at church, I think I found it.  A gentleman whom I’m pretty sure was the oldest in the room had some particularly wise words for the congregation: he said oftentimes the things we are most thankful for are the ones we had to work the hardest to get, but that’s not the case with our salvation, with our relationship with Christ.  He reminded us that’s the most amazing gift, the most incredible blessing for which to be thankful, and the ONLY thing we must do to receive it is open our heart to Him.
So here is my hope and my prayer this Thanksgiving Eve: that I’ll remember for the next few weeks that this season isn’t about all those blessings that we work so hard to get and hold so tightly to.  As wonderful as those things are, they can’t compare to the one blessing that we didn’t have to work for at all because He was gracious enough to pay the price and offer it to us at no cost.  This gift is available to every single one of us thanks to His mercy.  We don’t even have to hold tightly (though we should) because He holds us tightly every single day of our lives and thereafter.  That’s the promise of our God and it’s more than enough to fill my heart with that enthusiasm I’ve been looking for if only I’ll keep my heart open to Him.  And I’m thankful.  My prayer for you this holiday season is that you’ll be the same.

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