Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (NIV)
Another Thanksgiving spent with my husband's family. I did not want to go, again. I begrudged the yearly expectation to show up with a smile and a hot dish. My list of complaints grew each year as to why we shouldn't go. For example:
- The turkey stuffing included raisins.
- The rolls were store bought.
- The glazed ham with pineapple slices was not to my taste.
- All we did was watch football, not play games.
- The women mingled in the kitchen; the men hung out in the den.
- Plus, they always served sweet potatoes and I do not like them.
I griped incessantly each year pressuring my husband to stay home. My husband must have felt the truth of Proverbs 21:19, "Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse" (The Message).
Now the funny thing about it, I love his family. However, my independent spirit yearned for my own holiday traditions. Any small displeasure validated my excuse not to spend Thanksgiving with them.
Finally one year on the way to his parent's home, I snapped. The recipe I was assigned to bring was sweet potatoes. I'm sure you know the recipe that includes lots of brown sugar, marshmallows and butter spread across the top of the orange squashy vegetable (remember, I do not like sweet potatoes of any kind). I wrapped the steamy dish in towels to transport it to Thanksgiving dinner. We piled the kids into the back seat. I plopped down in the front seat and my husband placed the hot pan of syrupy bubbling goo on my lap. As we rounded the first corner from our house, the pan slid, tipped and spilled all across my beige pants. My legs burned and my eyes filled with tears. I let all my pent-up frustration break upon my husband as my children sat silently with their eyes looking down. I ruined Thanksgiving for everyone.
As I look back, I realize how selfishly I acted each year. My heart did not display thankfulness for my husband, my kids, the extended family or the abundance of delectable provision God provided each year. All I thought about was me. Even worse, I illustrated a poor example of Christian behavior to primarily unbelieving relatives.
Two of my three grown children now live out-of-state. My dear mother-in-law died a year ago. Funny how time alters our feelings. At this moment, I would jump at the chance to return to a past Thanksgiving. I would watch my children play with their cousins. I would hug my mother-in-law. I would bring that silly marshmallow orange glob and I would eat it with relish. I miss those sweet potato times.
This Thanksgiving, remember to be grateful for the small things in life. And if you are married, give your husband the opportunity to say, "House and land are handed down from parents, but a congenial spouse comes straight from God" (Proverbs 19:14, The Message). Joyfully give thanks to the Father God, not only for the food, but for the family, friends and circumstances that you find yourself involved with this Thanksgiving. Because times change and there is a season for everything.
My Prayer for Today:
Father, remind me that time changes circumstances. Let me display grace and thanksgiving throughout these holidays, regardless of what I want. Help me to exhibit kindness, patience and joy to my family and friends. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
1. Make a list of everyone you anticipate to gather with you on Thanksgiving Day. Write one compliment for each person and share it with him or her with a grateful heart.
2. If you crave something special to eat for Thanksgiving Day, stock your pantry with the ingredients. Decide to prepare it for the holiday or to enjoy it sometime this month.
What do I tend to complain about during the holidays?
Is there something I dislike that will change over time?
Would my husband say I am a congenial or petulant spouse?
How can I change my attitude to reflect a truly thankful heart?
Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (NIV)
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." (NIV)