I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday that explicitly rejects consumerism and instead pushes us to pause and reflect on what we already have to be thankful for.
Years ago when my wife and I were hosting our first Thanksgiving we wanted to make the day special. We didn’t want everyone to just gorge on a big meal and fall asleep in front of the TV watching football. We wanted the focus of Thanksgiving to actually be thankfulness.
That was the beginning of the “Thankful List.”
Here’s what we do:
Whatever day Thanksgiving lands on, each person attending our Thanksgiving festivities makes a list of things for which they are thankful up to that number. So, for example, with Thanksgiving on November 23 this year, we’ll be making lists of 23 things.
Here’s what I love about the thankful list.
The first few things are easy.
Those first few things on everyone’s lists are also quite similar. Family and friends, God, our health; the things in the forefront of our lives.
But once you get into the teens it’s where it starts to get interesting. You start to really think about what you’re thankful for. I always find that when I am making my list I start to feel like I am reaching somewhere around 19 or 20. And then something magical happens.
I hit stride.
There’s something about making such an extensive list of things you are thankful for that makes you realize how much you have to be thankful for. By the time I end I realize that I could keep going. I always feel like I could keep going forever.
After we’ve had our Thanksgiving feast everyone pulls out their list. We call out a number and go around the table. It’s a special time.
It’s also hilarious.
It’s hilarious because for #13 I may have listed something quite serious. I may have said something like, “I’m thankful for my wife’s support–that she believed in me when no one else did, even if that did mean up we’d end up in the in-law’s garage.” There’s a somber moment. We’re talking about what a crazy year it’s been. How our faith has been tested. How we’ve learned so much about life, love, friendship…
And then it comes time for the next person to share what they listed at #13….
And they’re thankful for Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food Ice Cream.
Let me tell you, everyone is thankful for those lighthearted moments. I’m not sure we could handle 24 rounds of such serious topics without a good laugh here and there.
The Thankful List spurs everyone to linger… to stay at the table a little longer… to pour another glass of wine or grab a piece of pie.
I hope you’ll join us in the Thankful List tradition.
You’ll be amazed how much you have to be thankful for.
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