Seven weeks from today is Christmas, and what we’ve come to call “the Christmas season” will come to an abrupt end. But when does the Christmas season begin? Most people complain that it begins earlier and earlier each year. Flipping through the radio stations in the car, I’m already stumbling upon Christmas music. I immediately change the station. Too soon, friends. Too soon.
I never hear people talk about the “Thanksgiving season” in the same way, making the whole month about the day. But I’d like to do that. So I declare today that Thanksgiving season has begun. From now until November 28, it is the Thanksgiving Season, a season to give thanks. A season of gratitude. Not just one day for gratitude, but three weeks or so to notice the good and give thanks for it.
I begin each day with a time of quiet and journaling. I write several lists, including one labeled “gratitude.” I try to be as specific as possible, listing ordinary but specific things. For example, last night I went to book club. This morning my list included “Friends who love to read and discuss.”
My gratitude list is not something I do out of obligation. It’s not an ought-to, it’s an opportunity. I know what gratitude builds in me. It is a spiritual practice that allows me to see more clearly the grace that infuses my life. Knowing I’m going to make the list, I keep my eyes open, looking for beauty, for small gifts in each day. Gratitude begins with noticing, with awareness. Perhaps the first step in the Thanksgiving Season is simply taking time to notice.
I’m a runner. When I practice the discipline of running, of just putting on my shoes and getting out there and moving, I’m eventually changed. I become more fit, I experience a greater ease in running. My lungs and heart are physically changed over time to be more efficient, more able to easily answer the demands of running. It also melts my stress. In essence, running helps me run. It makes me healthier, both physically and emotionally.
In the same way, gratitude helps me be more grateful. The daily practice of a gratitude list changes me. And it allows my soul to expand, to grow in its capacity to breathe in grace. If I’m gasping for more grace, I can begin to breathe easier with the practice of gratitude.
In my book GodSpace, I wrote: “When we are grateful, and give thanks, we experience grace. And that grace flows from us to people who are hungry to taste more of God.”
When gratitude transforms you, it’s not just for you—it’s for others as well. All around you are people who are hungry to taste more of God. And by simply engaging in a simple practice of gratitude, we become vessels of grace, conduits of light.
This is the season of Thanksgiving, of gratitude. Declare it. I invite you to embrace this season by making gratitude a daily practice. Feel free to share an item from your gratitude list in the comments!