At the end of each month this year, I am writing a ‘thought for the month’. This one is November’s. You will find the others here.
During my childhood, shortly after each Christmas, my Mum would ask me and my siblings to sit down at the dining room table. Out would come pens, pads of letter writing paper and notelets, and we would all be encouraged to write thank you letters to our grandparents, aunts and uncles.
“Do we have to?” we would cry, bemoaning what felt like a burden.
“If they’ve been kind enough to choose, buy, wrap and post you a gift that they think you might like, the least you can do is thank them,” she would respond.
Decades later, I’m profoundly grateful to my Mum for supporting us in this process. Despite how difficult we found it, it taught us a vital life lesson, from an early age, about the importance of saying thank you.
Nowadays, this type of letter writing is a dying art form.
But so, it seems, is the ability of many to say thank you itself.
It doesn’t take much to send a quick text, WhatsApp message, or email, simply to thank someone who has given us a gift. It doesn’t take much to pick up the phone, or even to handwrite a card and pop it in the post.
So why do we find it so difficult? Why does it not happen as often as it should!
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the USA and Canada, and an opportunity for families and friends to gather at the table, around a feast, to collectively reflect on the preceding year, and to give thanks together.
As I look back at all that has happened during this past year, I feel profoundly thankful.
Even though the global pandemic is still with us, and even though I’ve had friends and family who’ve caught Covid, I still feel thankful.
My book has been published, for starters! But I also have food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head, good health, loved ones around me, and so many other blessings, big and small.
Did you know that the Bible contains over 150 verses about gratitude, and countless more that contain a general attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God?
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118 verse 1)
- “In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you, in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5 verse 18)
- “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Philippians 4 verse 6)
It is so important that we give thanks!
It is God who has created us and who sustains us. It is God who provides for us and protects us. It is God who gives us grace and unconditional love.
Every time we take someone or someone for granted, it’s as if we’re taking God for granted too. When we learn to say thank you to God, it becomes easier to say thank you to those around us.
As a plaque in my house reminds me regularly, “There is always, always, always something for which to be thankful!” It is so simple, profound and true.
All we have to do is to start clocking all those little ‘something’s, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, daily counting our blessings.
How easy or difficult do you find it to say thank you – to God or to other people? Why do you think this is?
What are the things for which you are thankful today?
Who do you need to say thank you to today?
Please feel free to share your responses to these questions in the comments below, or to add any other thoughts about thankfulness.