This article is part of the resource materials packet for Day 6 of the Good Success Thanksgiving Challenge. If you have not yet completed the assignment for Day 5, click here to read the resource materials and catch up.
The Thanksgiving Challenge is almost over, and that means that tomorrow is a special day: Thanksgiving! For most of us, the actual day of Thanksgiving can get a little stressful. There are a lot of extra people in our house. We have a huge meal to contend with. Often, spouses are under pressure to have the table look perfect or to keep the kids out from underfoot, and that does not even factor in the ever-present tension of whether or not your team will win “the big game.”
A lot of times, the thankfulness gets lost in the shuffle even if you were really excited to see your family, friends, and loved ones before the day really began.
That is one reason that we created today’s challenge:
Thank a family member or friend today.
If you think about the first Thanksgiving with our pilgrims here in the United States, you know it was a day of celebration. They had experienced incredible hardship, and they had been saved, literally by native Americans who taught them how to cultivate crops and catch eels in the new land. Local tribes also gave the Pilgrims food during the first winter in the New World when it became apparent they had not brought enough from England. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 after the Pilgrims brought in their first harvest, and the feast included some 90 Indians. The feast itself was cooked by the only four remaining adult Pilgrim women who had survived the previous winter with the help of their young daughters. You can imagine how thankful those families must have been to still have their mothers and children with them!
From the beginning, Thanksgiving was a day to be thankful for family and to be thankful for all the family that they still had. Think of the Pilgrims today as you complete your challenge, to be thankful for family, every single one of them. That’s right: even the ones who drive you crazy.
Being thankful for your family is an art form. The nice thing about this is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You will likely find that many of the interpersonal conflicts that arise in many families become far less annoying as you practice the art of giving thanks for each member of your family every single day, and you can use today’s challenge to possibly ease any pending tensions tomorrow if, like many people in this country, you will be hanging out with family members that you do not often see.
Who Should I Thank?
If you are wondering who to thank today, take a minute first just to be thankful. Thank God for:
- Your mother and father
- Your grandparents and great-grandparents
- Your aunts and uncles
- Your nephews and nieces
- Your cousins
- Your brothers and sisters
- Your step-brothers and step-sisters
- Your foster parents
- Your step-children
- Your adopted or foster siblings
- Your adopted or foster children
- Your in-laws
- Yes, your in-laws
- You heard me: your in-laws
Now, I’m making light of this last item on the list, but that is probably where a lot of the family-related tensions arise. As you read through this list and actively, intentionally give thanks for them, take note of the places where you want to pause. Maybe you are saying, “I’m thankful for them, but I really don’t want my nephews tearing up my house tomorrow.” Maybe you are thinking, “I’m thankful for my mother-in-law, but I really wish she would just once avoid telling me how she used to have Thanksgiving at her house every year.” When you realize where you are “stumbling” in your gratitude, that is one of the people you should thank today.
Wondering what in the world to say? Here’s an easy way to complete this challenge and optimize your chances for a joyous, thankful day tomorrow. Call or text (too late for a letter) the person who is your stumbling block for this challenge. Tell them:
I just wanted to tell you I’m so thankful that I will get to see you tomorrow. You are so important to me as part of my family, and your [insert positive character trait here] is something that inspires me every time we get together.
You don’t have to write an epic poem for this person. You don’t even have to love hanging out with them all the time. But you do need to be thankful for them because they are your family.
Of course, don’t stop with thanking the person you find a little troublesome in your family. Go ahead and do the “easy” thank-you messages as well. Think about the people in your family who you would want by your side if you had only 24 hours to live. Think about the people you would want to thank one more time (or the first time) for big things they have done for you that you might not talk about on a regular basis.
Wondering what I mean? Here is an example from my life:
I had an uncle who came to visit us once when I was a kid, and he brought me a leather jacket. It was a huge deal for me because at the time, my parents would not have bought me a leather jacket. It would have been too expensive. I don’t know if he realized before he brought it what a big deal it was for me, but it was a huge deal and I was always so thankful for that incredible gift.
And, speaking of parents, here’s another thing to ponder:
What have your parents and/or kids done for you? Are there little things about your mom or dad or son or daughter that you love but you maybe do not remember to mention because they are so routine? Maybe you say “thank you” when they do them, but the thank you is on autopilot.
For example, my wife brings me coffee every morning, and of course I think I say thank you, but it means even more if I thank her for doing it when she is not handing me that coffee cup. When I remember how grateful I am to have a wife that does little, thoughtful things to make me happy and then I tell her, I’m intentionally thankful and she knows I’m not overlooking her dedication to our marriage and to me.
Now, get out there and say your thank-you, then go to the Good Success Facebook page and tell us who you thanked. And don’t forget to finish the challenge tomorrow, when we will thank the most important person of all.