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Wednesday Word: Thanksgiving

November 24, 2021 | Jay T. Smith

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Feeling Thankful?

I’ve got to be honest; I’m not in a very “platitudy” mood today. I’m typing this from a coffee shop in a town seven hundred miles from my home in Bozeman. Before the Thanksgiving holiday hits, I will have been on the road for 22 of the last 30 days, and it’s beginning to wear a bit on me. Nothing like endless restaurants, hotel breakfasts, rain, and a never-ending deluge of bad news on the television to wear on a person, and put you in the mood to “not be thankful.” So, as I look toward the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I’m just hoping that I make it home and collapse.

Putting all of the turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, Charlie Brown specials, and football games aside though, there is a bigger point here. Thanksgiving stands as a monument to our absolute need to give thanks. Because of COVID-19, the shopping season has started much earlier so that presents can make it in time for Christmas. That means the hustle and bustle that usually only begins the day after Thanksgiving has already begun. Allow me to translate: the stress and hurry of the season is already upon us, and it will only get worse. Before you know it, the season of wonder and joy will turn into doom and gloom unless we take the time to be thankful.

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

To be thankful is to stop and give God a moment. It means we take stock of the blessings in our lives which may be as simple as “I survived 2020-2021.” It may mean that we are thankful for new possibilities and new opportunities. It may mean we are thankful for moments as simple as falling leaves, running water, and heat in our homes. It may mean we are thankful for friends, family, or just the “kind, far-too-happy” drive-through employee at Taco Bell©. The point is that the act of giving thanks turns our lives right side up and inside out. It puts the ship that is our life back on course and reorients our inner compass away from the soul eating commercialism of the season and back on to a healthy human appreciation for life and love. Thanksgiving gives us our sanity back in a world consumed with anger, depression, and material stuff.

Look forward to this day, this time, this holiday, as I have purposed to do. Be thankful, be grateful, and just be. Hug someone. Tell them you love them and appreciate them. Rest, and give thanks with a grateful heart.

Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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