Throughout the month of November, Facebook is flooded with statuses of people rising to the “28 Days of Gratitude” challenge and posting something they are thankful for each day in November. I love this tradition, and it’s a great way to celebrate the Thanksgiving season. However, year after year, there’s barely time to wash the dishes and put away Thanksgiving leftovers before we stand in long lines and fight crowds on Black Friday. Hours after giving thanks, we rush to the nearest Wal-Mart or Best Buy to buy the biggest T.V., the newest tablet, or the sleekest laptop. Now, I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with Black Friday shopping, in fact, I think it can be a fun outing with family or friends. I just believe it’s important for us not to let the shopping and spending immediately cloud over all of the blessings we already have and have just celebrated. We can be so quick to turn from the season of Thanksgiving and right to the receiving of Christmas. Being grateful in November is certainly noble, but if we make such a bold display of that thanks on turkey day, why don’t we show our gratitude just as outwardly during the season of our Savior’s birth? Christmas is a time for giving and celebrating the birth of Christ. This year, in addition to the “28 Days of Gratitude” challenge, accept the challenge to carry the spirit of gratitude from Thanksgiving throughout the rest of the year. Here’s how:
- Serve. Serving those less fortunate, or your family and friends, is one way to realize all of your own blessing and gain a renewed sense of appreciation for things we usually end up taking for granted.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. Posting on Facebook isn’t the only way to document what you’re thankful for. When the November challenge is over, make a daily note in a journal of something big or small that you’re thankful for. Push yourself to think of more things you’re grateful for each day than what you did the day before.
- Spend Time with Family. There’s something about spending quality time with family that can spark reflection on all you have to be thankful for.
- Pray. President Henry B. Eyring once said, “You could begin a private prayer with thanks. You could start to count your blessings, and then pause for a moment. If you exercise faith, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude.”
- Remember the Reason for the Season. This phrase has become somewhat of a cliché, but it couldn’t hold any more truth. Remembering why we bother with the trees, decorations and parties is a great way to remain grateful during the Christmas holiday. President Utchdorf stated in a December, 2010 address that, “the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty.” Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift to the world. I can’t think of any time more appropriate to give thanks than the season of His birth.
Christmas is a wonderful and exciting time of the year, but instead of moving right along after Thanksgiving and forsaking an outlook of gratitude, try the tips above. See how much brighter your holiday season can be when it’s approached with the gratitude of what we have already been so blessed with. Throughout December and always, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (D&C 59:7).