Fall in eastern Germany meant fog blanketing rolling fields; savoring freshly dug potatoes roasted over a fire; and riding the horse-drawn wagon, decorated with festive tree, to bring in the last crop of wheat to the barn. On Thanksgiving Sunday, farmers brought yellow and red apples, pears, bright orange pumpkins, cabbages, onions, nuts, and bundled stalks of grain to decorate the church and give thanks. Later this bounty was distributed to the village poor. These memories belong to my mother and reach back nearly 100 years.
Even though these are my mother’s memories, sometimes nostalgia grips me, and I wish we could return to values held in the past. Oh, to bring back simpler days when people did not take things for granted so much or act so entitled!
Significance of Gratitude
Why does gratitude matter? Gratitude is good for our spiritual, physical, social, and mental health. Therapists prescribe gratitude meditations to help people overcome depression and anxiety, for example.
In Why Gratitude is Good, Robert A. Emmons says that thankfulness is “a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” No wonder the Lord tells us to be grateful. He wants us to be close to him. As we bless Him, it creates this reciprocal happiness between us.
Another good point Emmons makes is that “true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people . . . gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” Likewise, a thankful heart increases our awareness of God’s involvement in our lives and strengthens humble dependence on him.
Acquiring a habit of thankfulness is life transforming. Several years ago I read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, about journaling her blessings. This inspired me to do the same. It really did make me happier and changed me. Alas, I became less intentional about it after a while.
Making it Personal
So this Thanksgiving season, I resolve to get back to recording all the little joys and gifts of life more regularly. Most of all, I want to daily thank the Lord that he sees me clean and right with him, that he accepts me unconditionally, and that he loves me more deeply than I could ever imagine.
This month my dear readers, is certainly a most appropriate time to express my appreciation for you! I love hearing from you. Your comments and insights as well as encouraging words strengthen and bless me. I am humbled that you read my writing. Thank you all so very much for your support.
Wishing you a most blessed and joyous Thanksgiving season!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Robert A. Emmons’ article is published by Berkley’s Greater Good magazine: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good