By the time you’re reading this article Thanksgiving 2021 will be history. That does not mean that one stops giving thanks. Having an attitude of gratitude is helpful year-round. Many gratitude exercises are recommended for reducing one’s stress and improving one’s mental health. You might begin by giving thanks that all the preparation and cooking associated with Thanksgiving is done.
Some reading this might be having a difficult time thinking of things for which to be thankful. That’s understandable. It’s been a hard couple of years. We’ve lost friends and family to a variety of causes including, but not limited to, Covid-19. To deny that darkness is somehow dishonest. If you know someone grieving losses, then make some calls and check in. Maybe even invite people over to share a meal and the gift of time. There are no right words to say, but sometimes simply listening and being present makes a tremendous difference.
Some friends have engaged in a challenge to list three things for which they are grateful daily, even when they’re experiencing difficult times and challenges. The lists are at times very, very basic: I woke up today (not everyone did), I am breathing on my own (not everyone is), and I am able to feed myself (some go hungry and others are on feeding tubes).
The first thing that I am thankful for is God. Not enough can be said of God, the giver of all good things. God so loves us that he gave his only son that all who believe in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). In some churches, the communion service is called a Eucharistic Feast; the word eucharist comes from eucharistia which is Greek for Thanksgiving.
The second thing I am thankful for is my bride and our children. We have made it through many years, long moves, life changes, and several dark cold Alaskan Winters.
The third thing I am thankful for is the outstanding work done by many through this time. Area law enforcement agencies serve and protect our community, as well as collecting food for the Food Bank more recently. In case you hadn’t heard, there was a competition between area law enforcement agencies to collect food for the Fairbanks Food Bank. Over 50,000 pounds of food was collected for people in need. I am likewise thankful for all first responders (dispatchers, fire fighters, law enforcement, and ambulance crews). We can all give thanks for the outstanding nurses and doctors who are helping our community through Covid-19.
I leave you with this thought: Thanksgiving is more than one day a year. Thanksgiving is an attitude of gratitude. Honestly, sometimes Thanksgiving can be very stressful as people try and make the turkey turn out just right and the conversations remain peaceful — that’s easier unsaid than done. Yet even when life is challenging and difficult, there are still things for which we can be thankful. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, no matter the day!
The Rev. Stephen Reed is the Pastor at St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and the Chaplain for Police and Fire.
Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting