Giving Thanks

September 2016, originally printed in The Counselor’s Corner of the First Baptist Church
of Pelham, AL newsletter

November is the culmination of the Fall Season, closing out with a sumptuous meal at a glorious table surrounded by the warmth and love of a close knit family.

Wait, what was that screeching halt sound I just heard?

The image of Thanksgiving I just described is probably a reality for 5% of the people reading this article. However, it is probably only a hope and a longing and no-where near a reality for 95% of us. Unfortunately we spend 100% of our energy during the holiday to create that reality, even though it remains largely elusive. We finish the holiday exhausted, wondering why we tried, and vowing never to do so again. Until next October. Fall 2017 will come around, and we will be tempted with just the seed of a thought: “Maybe; hmmmm. Maybe this year.”

What is happening is that we are chasing nostalgia. We have a vague memory and a large dose of what should be — the way we want it to be. At its core, though, we are chasing a feeling. Feelings won’t be caught; they only arise. So let them come to you. Love and warmth emanate through choice and presence, and will not be captured through chase.

So instead of chasing a Thanksgiving to remember, spend some time remembering holidays past and giving thanks. “But if you knew my past, you’d know there’s not much for which to give thanks.” Well, that may be true, but as I look at scripture, I don’t see the encouragement only to give thanks when the past has been good enough for which to be thankful. Maybe your thanks is that today is not like the past. Perhaps your thanks is that you get to eat something other than overcooked, dried turkey (I suggest brining, by the way). Giving thanks has a way of letting the past be the past and for you to be fully present in the now. Warmth and love are the fruit not of re-creation, but of giving of yourself because you accept and embrace the moment and the people in the current moment.

This year, take a step back, take a deep breath, give thanks, and enjoy those who are around this table, as well as enjoy that which is on the table.

“And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.”
—Acts 27:35
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul Johnson is a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist, a professionally licensed counselor and a nationally certified counselor. He is available for marital, family, or individual counseling or consulting, or for speaking at your local organization. He has offices is at the Innercare Counseling Center in Greystone on Highway 280, and at the Hope Counseling Center in Pelham on Highway 31.  >> Contact Paul today.