By: Sandy Churchill
While turkey has now been transformed into a delightfully cozy stew and most leftovers are long gone, the spirit of gratitude lingers at our house. We had a frenzied Thanksgiving with 23 guests seated at three tables brimming with homemade squash, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and myriad pies, and conversation was abundant and happy. But the spirit of gratitude remains long after my oldest daughter’s grace at the table and began about two weeks earlier during a Sunday School lesson with my CCD students.
We called it a Thankful Bank—but a Gratitude Jar or Thankful Jar works equally well—and we crafted it them out of empty tennis ball containers. We labeled them and added the Bible verse from Psalm 107:1, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good—His love endures forever.” Naturally we were tying in the Bible verse to the lesson of gratitude because it is related to the kinds of prayers we were discussing—thanking God for His help, asking for something, repenting for wrongs, or praising Him. But an equally important lesson took hold over the class: the reason to give pause and count one’s blessings. It may sound trite and certainly Hallmark-season sentiment fitting of the latest holiday commercial, but it is true that human nature is often forgetful of the things that go “right” in the face of quirky inconveniences and small complaints. Even my sweet class of very kind 10 year-olds enjoyed the chance to stop and fill out little slips of paper for people and things for which they felt grateful. Of course, “family”, “friends”, “a house”, and “food” topped many lists, but some also mentioned the chance to visit grandparents on Thanksgiving, furry friends of all kinds, healthy bodies to play sports, and such.
I took some time to think of my own Thankful Bank—and what I would jot down on the colorful paper slips. Freedom, the right to vote, jobs I love, and the bounty of nature’s blessings I see every day on morning or afternoon walks—were just a few. Some of the children in class were giddy about competing to fill their Thankful Banks until next Thanksgiving and see how many blessings they could think of and stash in their banks. What a contest! If we could take the time to find the good, stash away the “thankfuls” each and every day—how gracious and positive would our hearts be day in and day out? What a change from the frantic, road rage-driven impatience and entitlement we see so often as we approach the Christmas season!
So now that Advent has begun and Christmas will speed its way along before the turkey soup is long gone, I am holding onto the Thankful Bank and determined to reflect on all the little slips of gratitude that will fill it during the coming year.