Giving thanks with less

Thanksgiving was just a few days away and for me that meant one thing: Christmas was getting closer!  Now that I was six, I was allowed to dig into the Christmas decorations! Soon my dad would string the twinkling lights outside and bring out his stack of holiday record albums. This was my favorite time of year.

The arrival of all my grandparents brought a mountain of suitcases, clutter and crowded hallways. I didn’t realize their visit was unexpected—they usually took turns—and only came at Christmas.

As I peeked into the kitchen, I saw the cupboards were all open. Canned foods, boxes of cereal and crackers, nuts, large sacks of potatoes, onions, apples and oranges covered our counters. The refrigerator and freezer were soon packed to the seams.

The next day 
good smells wafted through our small house. I’d never seen a canner before, but soon jars were lined up on the counter. It seemed like my grandmas never left the kitchen.

The day after, when Thanksgiving dinner was served, I took my place on the piano bench I shared with my sister. As I looked at the smiling faces of my family, I felt warm inside. My parents never mentioned to me that we’d run out of money.

Years later, in a season of my own financial struggles, I didn’t feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. What was the point? There wasn’t a whole lot to be thankful for. Then, in God’s amazing timing, my grandma called.

Sensing my somber mood, she told me about that bleak Thanksgiving long ago.  They hadn’t planned on visiting us, but my grandparents knew about my family’s unexpected medical bills—and our  money problem. Not celebrating Thanksgiving wasn’t an option for my grandparents. No matter how little you may have, you can choose to be thankful. Grandma said that thankfulness changes our heart—giving us hope for better tomorrows.

Grandma was right. As I learned to be thankful for the little I had, I saw my appreciation grow. The more thankful I became, the more I wanted to share it. 

I now see that's why my grandparents traveled so far to share with us all those years ago. They gave us more than food, they gave us hope. I can't recall many of the Thanksgivings in my life--but I'll always remember that one. Being thankful is a gift. It encourages those near us and it honors the One in Whom all blessings flow.

Thanksgiving still reminds me that Christmas is coming… and yes, you will still find me digging into my boxes of decorations just like I did when I was six.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

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