It is the morning after Thanksgiving as I sit and write this to you.  No, I’m not in a Target parking lot somewhere lamenting over the multitude of Black Friday shopping participants, nor am I eating a turkey sandwich for breakfast…or probably any time soon.

What I am is reflecting on yesterday.

It was and always is a day which holds bountiful memories of Thanksgivings of yesteryear: holidays, for me, that included my grandparents, my parents, my little sister, and extended family members whom I remember with love, gratitude and a whole lot of orneriness.  When you are in the thick of that day – whether it be staying in jams while watching the Macy’s Day parade, ramping up for the influx of company by spiking your coffee, or afterwards cleaning up more dishes, silverware and gross greasy, burned pans than you ever even knew you owned – it feels like home should.

Despite the stress Holidays can sometimes bring, most of us look forward to them with child-like anticipation as we know that the familiar smells, food, and noise levels will allow us to escape from “real life” even if only for a day.  We once again feel like wrongs have been righted.  That people are good again.  That hard things are now a bit easier.  We can be ourselves, something which many of us often forget how to do in a world filled with high-expectations and low self-esteem.

Holidays allow us to create a rhythm in life.  They provide foundational moments that quietly cement traditions we relish and cherish and pass on to younger generations.  They are without question the source of our fondest memories as we both remember old ones and create unblemished, perfect new ones.

And yet we also recognize that not all memories are fond; not all new normals are easy.  It is certainly easy to assume we have all experienced days or even lengthy periods of life when we find it difficult to recognize that for which we ought to be grateful.  I mean, how many announced and unannounced things alike come at us in the course of a lifetime that threaten to rob us of our gratefulness?  A lot.  Yet there are literally always things in the midst of those gratitude-stealers that we don’t see coming; the blessings in disguise that keep us going day after day, year after year, turkey after turkey.

Kids may be older.  Hairs may be grayer.  Tables and hearts may be fuller, or…emptier.

But thanks abounds.  We are alive.

It shouldn’t take a National Holiday to remind us to be thankful, but it does give us a chance to choose to try.  We can choose to see the good in things; to be more patient and find our endurance as we stand both in the face of life’s adversities and kitchens where aging parents are telling adult-children what to do.  We can choose to remember those who have gone before us and provided us the freedoms we have today.  We can choose to remember that we all have each other while some people have no one.  We can choose to step up for those in need.  We can choose to be better partners, parents, friends, and strangers.

We can choose to love well.

And we can definitely choose not to go to Target today.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thess. 5:18)

P.S. Thessalonica was the principle city and primary port of Macedonia forever ago (today’s Greece).  Founded during the reign of Alexander the Great, and was an important city under Roman rule that provided the main route from the Danube down to the Aegean Sea.  So by all intents and purposes, a “regular” city back in the day…probably like where many of you/we are now.  And like a father instructing his growing children, Paul urged the Thessalonians to lead lives worthy of bigger things, i.e. the Kingdom.  He praised them for their faith and their eagerness to spread the gospel throughout their region, and encouraged them to remain strong despite persecution, i.e. life’s gratitude-stealers.

P.S.S.  Killed the stuffing yesterday.