The idea came from a magazine article, and seemed so appropriate! The suggestion was made to create a “Thanksgiving Jar,” large enough to hold one year’s worth of hand-written notes. This is good, we thought! As the year went by, any time something happened that was worthy of a grateful attitude, the instructions were to write it down and put it in the jar. The reason was quite obvious since most of us, in our busy lives, remember only the major incidents. We soon forget the hundreds of things that happen, like that car that almost pulled into our lane and ran us off the road, the driver who stopped for a green light and we almost plowed into the back of them, and hundreds of other (non-driving!) happenings.
And so we began the day after Thanksgiving: getting our jar, we put it in a prominent place on the mantle. Soon it began to have notes put inside, and for once good intentions were carried through! The year went by and it wasn’t long (those of you who are over forty will understand, perhaps, better than younger people) before it was Thanksgiving again.
Feasting on turkey with all the trimmings, satiated with the type of meal that required easy-activity while it digested, we brought the jar to the now-clean table. Each of us would take out a note, read it, and if necessary remarks were needed (most of which were, “Oh, my goodness! I had forgotten about that!), it was talked about before being passed on to the next person. It was truly a Thanksgiving to be remembered, and we sat in awe at the situations God had brought us safely through!
Recently my husband and I were discussing our daily Bible reading. I learned many years ago that I need a “goal” to focus on in order to get through some of the more difficult (okay, boring) chapters: for instance, the long instructions for building the temple, the decisions on how to handle those with leprosy, the numbering of the tribes of Israel, and more, which are easy to skip unless you want to apply your mind to learning why God has those in the Bible. I had decided that reading it through for this year would be with the goal to learn why the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. That is so strange, to me! Nehemiah prayed, Esther prayed, David, Isaiah–why praying is all through the Old Testament. So why did they ask this particular question?
My husband, though, suggested that it might be worthwhile to take a sticky note, put it at the point where we begin our reading for the day, and see what can be found for which to be “grateful”–or something, as it were, that we can thank God for, as we read. Tough. As you read through much of Moses’ writings, he was instructing the tribes how to give sacrifices (that one is easy–how can we ever say “thank You” enough for the cross, and the once-for-all sacrifice?), the list of do’s and don’t’s for the tribes as they entered Canaan, and hundreds of examples. I’m sure it will get easier as soon as Joshua enters the scene, but it is still causing us to focus on “attitudes of gratitude” that we tend to overlook as we read! Never do I want my Bible reading to be a check mark on my “to do” list! I want to always remember to tell God “Thank You” whenever He does something small or large, easy or hard. On an aside note, it has never set well with me for a parent to have to remind a child over perhaps five years of age to say “thank you” when someone does something for them! They are given a lollipop, and Mom says, “What do you say???” The child, like a robot, says “Thanks.” The mom is right, it needs to be done, but if you begin it early enough it should be an automatic, true, heart-felt response by four or five. But then, how about us? By forty, fifty, or more, do we remember to say “Thank You!” to God for what He does for us? Waking this morning? The air we are breathing? The sight to read? Have you recognized His authority in your life, and realize that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning?” (James 1:17 )? We should have it down long before we reach middle age!
This year why not start your own Thanksgiving Jar? Then, next Thanksgiving, take time as a family to read each note, and prepare to sit back and be amazed at the faithfulness of God through the year! Sure, it may be a tough year. But one thing is a promise if you are truly one of His own: He will never, not for one second, leave you or forsake you. What a promise to start your jar with! How much better can thanks get than that?
By the way, I chose the picture because these two sweeties–eight weeks apart–were so grateful to be cousins. It is good to see the pure love two young ones can have in their innocence!
Thank You, God, for waking me this morning; for the wonder of technology that I can write about Your eternal mercy and grace toward us, Your children, to any person who reads this; thank You for the cross, Lord, for exchanging Your glory in heaven to live on this earth, be crucified, but raised again by Your own power, to triumph over death! Thank You for the promise that You will come back for us, and so we will ever be with You. It will take all of eternity to thank You for everything. Amen, and amen!