This Thanksgiving: Less Worry, More Gratitude

Though wonderful, having family and friends over at this time of year can be stressful, too — remember three important tips

The air is getting nippy and the grocery stores are full of goodies.

Thanksgiving is finally here — and the “gotta get ‘er done” lists are just about finished and discarded at this point.

Still, you might right now be wondering, as you contemplate your day and weekend ahead, “Who invited all of these people?!”

Suddenly you’re not thankful — but ungrateful and somewhat undone.

Take a deep breath …. Ahhh! Much better.

It is easy to slip into an “attitude of ingratitude” when one feels overwhelmed and “put upon,” no matter how many blessings you have.

The holidays aren’t a time to become a Martha — “worried and anxious about many things,” “burdened by much serving” (Luke 10:40, 41). Martha’s trip-up in the kitchen was not in her “serving”; it was that she failed to remember the top three tips below, thereby getting her apron in a twist and her eyes off Jesus and — sadly — onto herself.

Sound familiar?

So how do we escape the “holiday hurry worry” trap?

Try these tips.

1.) Remember whom you’re serving. You might be dishing out cranberries to people around the table — but ultimately, you are serving God. All that we do should be done “unto the Lord.” Try to see and serve Jesus in everyone you encounter. (Yes, even your in-laws!)

“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).

2.) Remember what you’re serving. You may be filling your guests’ (and kids’) tummies with turkey, but if you aren’t filling their hearts with a piping hot serving of love, why bother? People will not remember what they ate or how beautiful your table decor was as much as how you made them feel. Make love your main course.

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

3.) Remember why you are serving. The ancient Israelites had five different types of sacrifices that were “obligatory.” But the one seen as the “supreme — a pure gift to the Lord” was the one given not out of duty but out of love — the “burnt offering.” (You may find it comical it was called this, considering the holidays, the baking, and the potential for smoke alarms — but this is honestly what it was called! So keep this in mind when things get “overheated” in the kitchen.)

The beauty of this offering is that the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord, every bit. None was reserved for the priests or the offerer. It was given as a “thank you,” in gratitude to God … just because.

We must remember all we “do” is because we have been greatly “done unto.” Pass along the graces you’ve received and you will never give from an empty well.

Pass along the graces you have received and you will never give from an empty well.

“Consider this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

Keep your eyes on God, a smile in your heart and a “thank you” prayer on your lips this holiday season — and all that you do will offer a pleasing aroma unto the Lord.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the savor of the knowledge of him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Dear Lord,
Thank you! Thank you for [insert your intentions here]. May this be my prayer this season. I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Melissa Overmyer is founder of Something Greater Ministries in Washington, D.C., and has taught the Bible for over 30 years.