Somehow Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. Usually I make it a point to get out Thanksgiving decorations on November 1, because I like to remind everyone that there is an important holiday before Christmas too. I pull out our Thanksgiving books, make little “I’m Thankful For” slips of paper to put in our cornucopia, and calculate when to start reading the six-part Thanksgiving story so we will finish on Thanksgiving Day.
Well, a couple of days ago one of the children remarked that we hadn’t started the story yet. In fact, we had no decorations up anywhere; the box was still in the attic and the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Maybe you are experiencing the same thing. One of your children says something and you suddenly realize that you have neglected thanksgiving—maybe not just the holiday, but the attitude.
What steals our thanksgiving? What swipes it when we’re not looking?
Three Thanksgiving Thieves
Charlotte Mason gave some very practical answers when she outlined three potential thieves of thanksgiving:
“We fail to give thanks, partly because we are inert, partly because we are preoccupied with some fret or desire of the moment, and partly because of the petulant turning away of the shoulder from God which is our danger” (Vol. 4, Book 2, pp. 191, 192).
We may fail to be thankful because we are inert. “Inert” means a lack of ability or a lack of strength to move. In other words, we’re weary and we either can’t or don’t want to put forth the effort. It’s easy to get in this position. We plod along through the endless day-to-day routine, head down.
But if we’re not careful, the everyday effort can sap not only our strength, but our thankfulness as well. Are you tired, my friend? Lift your head and survey the Lord’s blessings to you. The effort you put forth will be restored ten-fold as your spirit rises too and gains new strength for the journey.
Don’t let weariness steal your thanksgiving.
Charlotte also observed that we may fail to give thanks because “we are preoccupied with some fret or desire of the moment.” Worry is a notorious thanksgiving thief.
The more we zero-in on that looming evaluation that requires a child to demonstrate to others all that he has learned, the less we look back and smile with a grateful heart at what he has already accomplished as a person.
Even little desires and frets of everyday moments can keep us distracted. Will the new recipe come out right? What will my in-laws say about homeschooling at the family gathering this time? How long will this job last? All of the “what if”s of life can keep our minds preoccupied to the point that they are too busy to slow down, look around, and give thanks for the “this is” of life.
Don’t let worry steal your thanksgiving.
The third thanksgiving thief that Charlotte mentioned is a “petulant turning away of the shoulder from God.” We’ve all seen that turning away of the shoulder when a child doesn’t get his way—the face clouds up, the bottom lip sticks out, the back is turned. Charlotte gently reminded us that such an attitude toward God is a dangerous thing.
“Petulant” means disgruntled, sulky, grouchy, or bad-tempered. In other words, becoming upset or mad. Usually we get mad at God because He did not give us what we thought we should have. Maybe we are disgruntled about finances; we think God did not give us as much money as we should have. Or maybe we have turned grumpy over having to deal with special needs—something we “didn’t sign up for” when we became parents.
Whatever the cause might be, we become petulant and our hearts turn away from God. And once our hearts turn away from God, thanksgiving becomes shallow and is soon neglected.
Be careful. Such an attitude leads down a dark path that will embitter not only your own spirit, but your children’s as well.
Don’t allow a petulant spirit to break your fellowship with the Giver of all that is good. Don’t let anger steal your thanksgiving.
This week, if you find your heart empty of thanksgiving, poke around in the dark corners for the three thieves who may have stolen your grateful attitude away. Are you weary, worried, or mad? Such thieves cannot continue their depressing work when we catch them at their crime and choose to lift our eyes and hearts and thank our Heavenly Father for each blessing from His loving hands.
Not just this week, but every day of our lives. Beginning today.