My grandmother was the most grateful person I’ve ever known. She was easily delighted by a lemon-filled donut, a surprise visit from family, or a photo album chronicling a celebration. I remember her with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Anyone who met her would never have guessed that she had ever lacked anything, but her past told a different story.
She grew up in a house with dirt floors. Her childhood was marked by hard daily work on the farm, often around large animals that frightened her. Joy and laughter were hard to find, as were brand new clothes or other things often considered necessities today.
After years juggling school and hard work, she married, moved away from the farm and took a job in a dental office. She had three daughters, lost her only son, and weathered by faith almost losing her youngest daughter in another health crisis. Through it all she was not bitter and did not complain. In the old photo albums, she was always smiling in her children’s or grandchildren’s wedding pictures, smiling with a new grandchild or great grandchild in her arms, smiling in someone’s graduation or holiday celebration.
She never had a big house, never took big trips, but she had a big heart and knew how to do a big Thanksgiving. The whole extended family would gather in her small house. All the food went on a long table in the basement. We said grace with people standing throughout her little kitchen, dining room and family room. Then everybody went to the basement and filled their plates with food. Some of us ate in groups upstairs and others were downstairs; her little house was full to overflowing with joy and gratitude.
I think my grandmother overflowed with gratitude because she chose to live in the reality that she didn’t deserve anything…that everything was a gift. When you start with dirt floors, 20-year old carpet under your feet is luxurious. How often does my bitterness, or even jealousy, spring from not having something that I think I should?
We all know our Thanksgiving celebrations this year will look different. All of 2020 has looked pretty different. So I’m trying to approach these holidays like my grandmother would — focusing not on what I don’t have or think I should have — but on everything good that has come into my life. It’s easy to be so distracted by what we think we’re missing that we miss noticing our blessings. May God draw your focus to the people in your life who love you. May He give you this Thanksgiving eyes to see the abundant good He has brought into your life and may He give you a heart that is easily delighted by them!
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)