Sizzling in its juices, a crispy, golden, Thanksgiving turkey is placed in the center of my dining table. My stomach groans pitifully at the sight of this twenty pound masterpiece of poultry. After prayers, there is a sudden clattering of knives. Each man for himself as we dive for our favorite piece! I reach for a juicy, brown leg. My sister? She dives for the neck. Yes, you read that correctly––the skinny, U-shaped, absolutely meatless turkey neck.
Why this turkey neck is even on our table beats me because most normal people throw that bone away. However, every Thanksgiving, the neck never fails to make its prominent entry onto the Thanksgiving platter, and every year my sister dives for it first.
Each of us have our own Thanksgiving traditions. For my sister, it’s getting to eat the turkey neck once a year. Most other people have less bizzare ambitions and set up their Christmas decorations or begin playing their Christmas playlists on Spotify. (Unless you’re a terrible person like me and have already been listening to Christmas music since before Halloween. Feel free to comment below on what a heretic I am.) Others are using Thanksgiving as the perfect opportunity to go to bed at 2 A.M. and wake up at lunch time. Still more of you are suffering from the effects of procrastination and are traditionally using this time to do homework, such as solving for the derivative of y = lnx + 3 or memorizing the order of the Chinese dynasties. Nonetheless, one tradition I’m sure each us has preserved during Thanksgiving is the practice of going around the dinner table and saying what we’re thankful for.
As we enter this season, however I want to encourage us not to reserve this habit for Thanksgiving alone, but to make all days a time to celebrate the blessings God has showered down on us. A few years ago, I came to this revelation and began writing a journal to specifically record all the things I was thankful for. It started off with “#1: I am thankful for my loving, funny, and wonderful family” but after a few months, my journal entries started reading something like Journal Entry #56, which read, “I’m thankful for our toilet unclogging snake. It’s very useful.” Suffice to say after a few dozen more entries, I ran out of time and ethereal things to write down and my entries became less and less sophisticated until I eventually shelved the journal and didn’t open it for several years.
While drafting this editor’s note, I suddenly recalled that I once kept a thanksgiving journal several years ago. I ran upstairs, pulled it out of my shelf, and was suddenly inspired to madly fill out many of the remaining lines with blessing after blessing that had happened in my life since I had last put this journal away. After several lines of pure thanksgiving, I stared at the paper, amazed at the incredible and wonderful blessings I had apparently experienced recently but had forgotten until I had the chance to organize it and write it out on paper.
When I come to the end of a year, I usually think something along the lines of, “Wow, that was a tough year. I can’t believe so and so happened.” But when we make it a habit to sit down and think of what we are thankful for, suddenly the year of difficulties turns into a year of fruitfulness. The tragedies turn into blessings in disguise. The pain and sorrow into grace and joy.
Giving thanks to the One who loves us can truly turn our lives upside down, helping us to realize that everything is really much better than we think. Thankfulness allows us to see the glass as not only half full but overflowing. I encourage each of you to start writing a journal of thanksgiving (write thanks for anything––toilet plungers and all), and to continually praise the One who loves you so much. God’s abounding love for us is enough to make us continually fall on our knees and praise Him. For us Christians, it should always be Thanksgiving.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Photo Creds: Food Network