Walking through the aisles at Target the other day, I was searching for some things I needed for a Thanksgiving project with my kids. It seemed all of the store was in boxes as staff members restocked for the changing of holidays. As Halloween was coming down, aisles were strewn with 90%-off witch hats and brooms and jack-o’-lantern-adorned candy; they were being replaced by sparkly Santa cutouts, Christmas wreaths, and peppermint-striped paper. It was overwhelming. For me, the mom who is a list maker, an organizer, and a planner, it was enough to incite panic.
I have barely recovered from dressing my children in uncomfortable bulky costumes and begging for candy among the Elsas and Ninja Turtles a few days ago. I am NOT ready for Christmas. The to-do list for mom in the holiday season seems to triple in length, and the days are hours too short. We all feel it. The catch of our breath when Christmas countdowns pop up on Facebook, and the commercials are all for things our loved ones “can’t live without.” All of that and the starkness of the change and commercialism, however, was not the worst part of what my heart was feeling.
My heart tingles just a bit every year in November. It just feels like people skip over Thanksgiving, turning it into a means to try out recipes and take a day off to watch football. Trust me, we are a up-and-cheering, football-loving family (Go, 49ers, all the way! ), and we all love our turkey and mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving itself isn’t the issue. In reality, Thanksgiving itself is just another day to celebrate our freedoms. Something we should really be doing every day anyway. For me it’s more that November is a reminder of how we should be thankful. And I struggle with that.
I have a hard time seeing the positive in things. In the rain, in the SNOW (YUCK), in sickness, in soreness. I have a hard time finding a silver lining in things that make me uncomfortable. I see the negative first. I have partially trained myself that way. If you “prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” there is supposed to be less pain. And every November I am convicted. You see, I also claim to be a follower of Jesus, and, in that, I have SO MUCH to be grateful for. Eyes to see the rain. A car that drives me to and from where I need to go in spite of the snow. A body that is well often enough to notice when I am not completely healthy. Yes, I am sore…often. But my disease which leaves me sore has also taught me compassion and perseverance.
Being thankful is the ACT of being grateful. According to Ephesians, Christians are called to “give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, NLT).
There is much to be learned about gratefulness. There is much to be taught about thankfulness. When seen through eyes like Jesus, things are often so much more positive. Jesus didn’t see the woman with a bleeding disease as a potential threat when she touched him; He only saw her faith. Jesus didn’t see the loaves and fishes as a curse to be dealt with, but as an opportunity to show love.
What if the blessings to be grateful for are the richest when they come through the things that make us uncomfortable? If we all found ways to be grateful and if we looked at opposition as an opportunity to show love, I wonder if we might be more prepared for the crazy Christmas madness. Because, the madness disappears when we focus on the reason for the season. The reason for Every.Single.Day.
Kayla Wells was a member of Bigfork MOPS for 4 1/2 years and served on the steering team for 3 years. She is married to Dan and is a mom to three. You can find her at Mommy’s Soapbox.