My dad shared a funny picture on his Facebook timeline. I won’t post it here to avoid copyright infringement; click the link to see it. Basically, it shows a shows a turkey yelling at Santa:
November is my month, buddy, Wait Your Turn!
So true, right? We all agree, and yet, somehow Thanksgiving, as a holiday and a practice, often gets lost. The point is peace and gratitude, not stuff, or stuffing. I’m hoping for something different this year. If I can pause and truly celebrate gratitude for Thanksgiving, then maybe the Christmas season will be calmer, and more meaningful, too.
I’ve just finished a powerful book to help me with this. Because I- mother of four and a Type-A controller- am going to need much help. And, maybe you do too.
In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp describes how she learned to find fulfillment in the everyday monotony of housework and parenting. It’s a difficult concept but an easy practical application: she started a list. Every day, for over a year, she wrote down the ways God blessed her. Usually it was little stuff – the bright orange of carrots, the giggle of a child. But don’t think Voskamp’s book is full of saccharin platitudes about a positive attitude. She digs deep.
She shares at the beginning:
I wake to the discontent of life in my skin… To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain… I live tired.
Can you relate to this passage? I can. Voskamp turned to her faith, to the practice of eucharisteo, giving thanks, to bring joy back into her life. But it wasn’t easy.
I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life… Life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.
She made herself write gifts down. She didn’t just think about gratitude, she practiced it, listing one item at a time.
What I Liked
One Thousand Gifts demands a lot of its reader. Voskamp writes with a poetic and unique style, one that can be hard to absorb at 10pm when one finally has time to open a book. It’s kinda like reading Shakespeare: you have to get into the rhythm of it. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, like why bad things happen or the need for total surrender to God. Yet it’s a book that, if you allow it to penetrate your thinking, will change your life.
The 1000 Gifts mobile app
If you’re ready for a challenge, if you’re tired of being exhausted and discontented, give One Thousand Gifts a try. It’s especially appropriate for the holiday season, a time when we could benefit from peace and reflection, if we choose them. Voskamp writes from a Christian perspective, so keep that in mind if you read or recommend the book.
And there’s more than just reading to do. I realized I’d be losing the point of Voskamp’s work if I didn’t start practicing gratitude like she did. I thought about buying a pretty journal for my list, but then I saw the ad for the One Thousand Gifts app.
With the mobile app, I carry my list with me wherever I go and add when the moment strikes, or when I realize that I need to practice some gratitude. The app lets me add pictures and share gratitude moments to social media. It also has inspiring quotes from the book. It uses the soothing brown and light blue color scheme from the book.
Yes, writing things down in a journal would be cool, but I think I’ll be more likely to practice gratitude, to nail in eucharisteo, if I’ve got a constant reminder with me. I’ll let you know.
How do you think gratitude can improve your life? What do you think about a gratitude list?
Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for getting thoughtful with me.