In a few days, we will join together across the country to give thanks. We will remind ourselves and each other about all our reasons for gratitude. We will remember that all of life is a gift, undeserved and free. We will thank God, and be glad that we did.
Sometimes it feels like that experience of gratitude doesn’t have a physical or emotional place to call home, a way to stick to my soul. Even though it seems like the usual Thanksgiving holiday customs are shrinking, the opposite may actually be true: This year might be the perfect time to expand my thanks-giving. To thank God by thanking others.
I’ve written about this matter before. Bear with me as I repeat some thoughts about how I try to broaden and deepen acts of gratitude wherever I find myself.
I like to thank the people who serve me—postal workers, market clerks, cashiers, medical workers, receptionists—for their genuine smiles. I tell them that their smile could change someone’s day. That their kindness could be contagious.
I sometimes write thank-you notes, letters, texts or e-mails. This Thanksgiving could be a time for me to surprise long-lost classmates, former colleagues, self-giving pastors, distant relatives or public servants with my gratitude. (I always say why I’m grateful, too, naming specific reasons for my thankfulness.)
Sometimes I focus on people who may rarely get thanked. Custodians, government workers, grocery baggers and law enforcement officers come to mind. They deserve to be noticed for their faithful service.
Why all this thanking? I’m glad to be alive. Literally. Grateful for all the people that God uses to enable my well-being. That’s why this year, I’ll expand my thanks-giving into thanks-living. I’ll thank God by thanking others.
And I will be glad I did!