It’s been a holiday since 1863 when President Lincoln declared a thanksgiving day on the last Thursday of November. We mark it by gathering with family and friends and enjoying lots of good food.

Somewhere between scanning the store ads for “must haves” and enjoying pumpkin pie, we remember to give thanks. Or, perhaps in our hurry, we dig into our holiday banquet and we forget. Or, life is hard, and in our preoccupation with difficulties and even tears, we find gratitude is elusive.
A few years ago, I began to keep a gratitude jar. I regularly write something I am thankful for on a slip of paper and place it in my jar. At the end of the year, I dump the papers out, and read about the gratitude moments.

I’ve included notes about blooming azaleas, the beauty of a blanket of snow, a phone call from a friend, an incredible Bible study I’m part of, Face Time with grandchildren…  moments of gratitude found in the surprises and simplicity of my day.
The last Thanksgiving we celebrated before my husband went to heaven, was at my daughter Susan’s house. As we went around the table, each of us gave thanks for something special to us. My husband’s words still echo.
“I’m thankful that all my grandchildren know Jesus.”
None of us mentioned material things, but all were gifts, recognizing treasures of life. I hadn’t started my jar then, but if I had, his statement would have been written on paper and placed in it. 
Life can be enjoyable, healthy, but not always easy. It can be uncomfortable, or marked by stressful situations or illness. But God is faithful and loves us in all seasons and places.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! 
His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 NLT
 I see it in strength to enjoy a three-mile walk, the laughter of my grandchildren, and the phone call from a friend. My jar gives me perspective, because in a year, it’s easy to forget the simple moments–those that evoke gratitude.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns … chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.   Melody Beattie

Living in gratitude: not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

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