The other day I was listening to a radio program and the first line the announcer said was “The idea of Thanksgiving probably makes you feel two things – hungry and stressed.” He went on to explain how their show was going to help those two feelings dissipate but I couldn’t get away from his introduction. If he is indeed right and the two emotions that most people experience when they hear “Thanksgiving” are hunger and stress…then I think we’ve maybe forgotten what the word actually means. Or as it was put so aptly in the classic movie The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inconceivable!)

Thanksgiving. The giving of thanks. A time to reflect on blessings. A time to acknowledge gratitude. A time to embrace life. Not a time to reflect on what we don’t have, but to offer thanks for all the things we do. Not a time to bemoan what is lost, but to praise what remains. To see all that we cherish, all that we have, all that we hold dear with new fresh eyes of gratefulness.

As we celebrate this year, let’s remember that our children are watching how we give thanks, how we come to the Thanksgiving table. They are learning from us what it is to live full and fulfilling lives or to live hungry, stressed lives. As we give thanks more intentionally on this day, let’s do so in a way that helps our children understand even more the satisfaction and rest we find in Jesus; the joy of walking in His love and the fellowship of His body, the Church.

Oh there may be times this Thanksgiving that you are stressed; let’s face it, life can be stressful. And there may be times where your stomach growls from hunger or just in anticipation of the delicious food that awaits you. But let’s be sure that those two things don’t define our Thanksgiving. Let’s intentionally come to the table with hearts full and at peace. Let’s season our words to family and friends we see with true gratitude and grace. Let’s build a legacy for our kids this holiday season that simply reflects the heart of hospitality and gratefulness we carry with us all year long.

And maybe when they are us, Thanksgiving won’t make them feel hungry and stressed. Maybe then, Thanksgiving will make them feel full and satisfied.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Count your blessings…and give them a hug too!

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Christina is wife of Pastor Luke and mom to Hannah, Naomi, and Caleb. She has been serving in ministry since 2010, first as a director of children's ministry and now as a family minister near Lexington, KY. She is passionate about helping churches transition into family ministry and equipping parents for discipleship in the home. She is currently completing studies at Wesley Seminary at IWU for a Master's degree in ministry with a focus on children, youth and family, with the desire to help churches grow their family ministries.