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Nov 26, 2012

The Habit of Giving Thanks

Tracy Klicka

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

                                                ~I Chronicles 16:34

   This year’s Thanksgiving Day tradition was a blend of the old and the new for us. The last 20 years, we celebrated Thanksgiving in one house; it is the home where all of my kids’ memories were made. Moving to a new house this past January gave us the opportunity to incorporate some of our old traditions in a new setting. In addition, this Thanksgiving provided us the chance to start a new tradition—to do something that would become part of this new chapter now that Peter is a part of our lives. I had quite optimistic hopes that we would do a little of both; God had a different plan.

   When our kids were little, Thanksgiving was punctuated by activity that helped us remember the historical roots of our nation, and how God’s people were tried and tested but gave thanks to God nevertheless. Purchasing and reading aloud several books about the first Thanksgiving, the Mayflower voyage, Indian friends Squanto and Samoset, what life was like back then all helped give my children a sense that God is sovereign over history, is intimately involved in the lives of His people, and always gives purpose to those who acknowledge Him. Next year, I’ll share some of our favorite books on the theme of Thanksgiving.

   In addition to our ever-growing collection of good, beautiful, and true Thanksgiving history books, we celebrated a few of our own family traditions, most notably the Thanksgiving basket. Just prior to Thanksgiving, I would put out a small basket, decorated with leaves on its lid, along with a supply of leaf-shaped fall-colored pieces of construction paper. Grabbing a pen, my children, Chris and I would write things we were thankful for and place them in the basket. Over the Thanksgiving meal we would read our ‘leaves of thankfulness’ out loud and end our meal with a short time of prayer, giving praise and thanks to our God.

   I was all excited to get out our Thanksgiving books last week, but after searching through 40+ boxes of books in our basement (yes, we still have a lot of unpacking to do down there!), I couldn’t find them. Then after printing leaf designs on colored construction paper (thankfully, without jamming our printer!), I couldn’t find a kid in the house willing to stop long enough to cut out the leaves. They were busy enjoying having out-of-town siblings home too much to do this menial task. Meanwhile, I found that most of my time needed to be spent in the kitchen preparing food for our family crowd.

   After praying and thanking the Lord for all His blessings this past year, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast together, spiced with lively discussion and good laughter. I had been feeling a bit down because we had left out our usual Thanksgiving traditions, but God wanted me to give thanks, plain and simple. He didn’t want my joy to be in our celebration; He wanted me to have my joy planted in who He is and what He has done. I truly have MUCH to be thankful for!

   Holiday traditions are good, but as our children get older, traditions sometimes change or get left behind altogether. The habit of giving thanks, however, is something we should always embrace…and not just at Thanksgiving.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night
.”

                                                ~Psalm 92:1-2

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