When I was in about the 5th grade, I remember having to write a composition on “What Thanksgiving means to me”. Back then I was thankful just to get good grades and to not have to sit next to the cute boy in class. I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to what Thanksgiving meant outside of what would be on our dinner table for the big holiday feast.
But this morning after someone bid me a “Happy Thanksgiving” and a smile, I thought about that long ago question. And for perhaps the first time, I allowed myself to answer it.
Thanksgiving Day in and of itself is a holiday. Its a tradition, that for us as Americans, began with the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Indians. Its a day set aside for family gatherings and lazy afternoons of watching the big game on television.
But when I give serious thought to what Thanksgiving really means to me, it goes beyond just the day and traditions of a holiday. For me, Thanksgiving is about a thanks that gives.
Its easy to be thankful when we have been given something. Receiving requires only our gratitude. But the true measure of our thanks isn’t only in what we have been given, but what we give to it .
I am blessed with many wonderful blessings, and for all of them I am truly grateful. I have a wonderful family, great pets, loyal and caring friends, the love of a wonderful man, a good job, a loving church family, a growing and awesome relationship with Christ. I could go on and on.
And yet the real blessing isn’t just in my gratitude for them, or that I have them in my life. I did nothing to deserve any of them. Its only by God’s grace that they are a part of my life.
No, the real blessing comes when I give back to each of these blessings in a way that honors the gift they add to my life. More than being thankful for them, I strive to live a life that give thanks to them. For it is in giving that I truly see how blessed I am.
Not the giving of money or material things. I can’t give what I don’t possess. But the giving of myself in such a way that blesses and adds to someone else. When I can give love it means I was blessed with love. When I can give compassion, it means someone blessed me with their compassion. When I give hope, it means, I was blessed with hope.
I don’t remember what I wrote for that 5th grade composition, or even if my teacher would remember me now. And honestly I know at the end of my life no one will stop and wonder what happened to my 5th grade writing assignment.
But if I have lived a life that honors all that I had been blessed with, then I know mine was a life well lived.
Happy Thanks Giving!