Core Decorum: thankfulness

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

As Thanksgiving draws closer, we seek to renew the spirit of thankfulness within our hearts. 

On that day of the year, we find ourselves surrounded with plenteous food, beloved family and the exciting realization that Christmas is fast approaching. Most likely, it is not hard for us to choose gratefulness in those moments. 

But what about the rest of the year? Do we as attentively count the blessings of our passing days as we do with the passing years?   

I know that I forget to do so. I often fall into ungratefulness. 

While a number of reasons can be posited for it, I think the root of ungratefulness is a startlingly simple problem. It may start small, but once it takes root, it becomes detrimental to thankfulness. 

I’m talking about the problem of comparison. How often do we forget the gifts we’ve been given because we become swept up in watching what others have been given? 

Theodore Roosevelt aptly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

Like children, we compare the sizes of our gifts with those of others, and in doing so, comparison robs us of the joy that gratefulness creates in our hearts.  

We must remember that the gifts we are given are lovingly designed specifically for each one of us. Consequently, our gifts will look different from each other.  

Who among us would want to receive gifts that were exactly the same as everybody else’s? Whenever someone tailors a gift specifically for us, we love the gift even more, because it was made with our particular needs and relationship with the giver in mind.

Considering this, we cannot help but offer daily prayers of thanksgiving. 

Just as a loving parent is happier when a child’s thankfulness for a gift outweighs how much they asked for a gift, so God is delighted when we offer more prayers of thanksgiving than we do petition. 

This is not to say we should hold back our prayers of petition, for God, as the most loving Father, wants us to come to him for anything. 

However, we must remember we did not ask for most of the gifts God has given us, both large and small. 

We did not ask to be created, yet God gave life to us. We did not ask God for the sun to rise this morning, yet it does, as it has every day of our lives. 

How often are we given a friend we did not ask for? Or an opportunity we never expected? 

God’s gifts to us are not only provided before we even ask for them, but they are beyond our wildest dreams.  

Even what may not initially seem to be blessings in our lives, such as hardships and disappointments, are actually hidden gifts. What a joy it is to know there are so many gifts that we have yet to unwrap.  

May we continue in our prayers of petitions, but may our prayers of thankfulness multiply in proportion. 

And at the end of the day, may every meal we have be a thanksgiving dinner.

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