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What are you thankful for?

Updated: May 22, 2022

What are you thankful for? That might be a question that is hard to answer in this current season that we are living in. We are surrounded by loss, unemployment, long-term furlough, illness, separation, loneliness and grief. When we live in those kind of circumstances, lifting our heads to see the blessings around us can be hard.

Today is Thanksgiving. As our family has roots in both the UK and the USA, this is one holiday that we celebrate. Each year we start a new way to record what we are thankful for during the year. We have created blessing trees and added leaves of thankfulness. We have had blessing boxes and posted notes of thankfulness. This year we have created a blessing jar. Each week we have each written a thankfulness note for the week just past and placed them in the jar. At the end of our Thanksgiving meal, we spend time reading out the notes and giving thanks to God for all the little and big blessings that we have experienced during the year. Most often we are reminded of the little things that we were thankful for during the year, but have most likely forgotten about them.

This is one of the family traditions that we all love the most. My youngest describes it as a pre-Christmas dinner, and in many ways it is. We have a big roast dinner that lasts longer than a normal mealtime and just sit and chat. Crackers and paper hats are replaced with mashed sweet potato and creamed corn. It's the start of advent and the preparation of our home and hearts for Christmas day and the reminder of the Good News.

We read that many families don't sit down all together at meal times. I have a feeling that lockdown may have changed some of that and that perhaps we are now prioritising spending time as a family each day. But as we return to a new 'normal', I wonder how much of what we have rediscovered during this time will be lost in favour of the busyness that life creates. Special celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Sundays and many other festivals, can be times when we intentionally stop and spend time as a family.

Family traditions are so important in a child's development. The family should be a safe space where we can grow, learn, make mistakes, love and be loved; for adults and children alike.

As a solo parent, I would often feel guilty about my children growing up without a father figure within our home. But as I wrestled with this thought, God showed me how many father figures were already surrounding my children; whether through school, church or in other places. Please don't carry that guilt with you. You are more than enough for your children. If you ask God to give you the strength and vision to nurture and care for your family, He will. So stop feeling guilty and instead, continue making memories. I asked my children how they would describe our home. They said it is comforting, full of joy and happiness, safe and secure, welcoming, full of laughter and tears (being able to express emotions is important) and adventurous. That sounds like a place where memories can be made and childhood traditions forged that will last from generation to generation.

So can I encourage you, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not; stop and look around you. What are you thankful for? Where are your blessings hidden? What family traditions to you have or would like to start? What does being part of your family look and feel like?

May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. Psalm 115:14

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