ISSUES OF FAITH: Being thankful for Thanksgiving

I AM THANKFUL for Thanksgiving and how it prepares our hearts for the Christmas season.

In my family history, there are many farmers. Thanksgiving must have been a time after a season of laboring in the fields, when they thanked God for that year’s harvest as they gathered around the table.

I’m not a farmer, but I have seen years of plenty, and years when things were extremely tight. I have had years of few serious worries, and years where it was all I could do to finish out each day, hoping the world wouldn’t come crashing down on me.

I love to sing the hymn, “Count Your Blessings.”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings; Name them one by one.

Count your blessings; See what God hath done.

There is wisdom and power in having gratitude in our hearts and recognizing our blessings. Gratefulness leads to increased happiness.

Thanksgiving brings a flood of memories of my childhood and being with my grandmother.

As an adult looking back at the simple life my grandmother led, I marvel at how content she was with so very little.

She couldn’t afford to go to restaurants or the movies, but thankfully she was a great cook. I doubt that she ever bought a pre-made pie. The house smelled wonderful for days around Thanksgiving.

For entertainment, she had an old TV console with a built-in record player. We would watch shows such as Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie and listen to Gene Autry Christmas records.

The family would gather from near and far. We played games like Clue and Monopoly.

There would be a warm fire and I was in charge of getting wood from the woodshed. There was a lot of visiting, laughing and love. The grandkids would play outside until we were nearly frozen, and then we’d come inside by the fireplace. It was the simplest of times, yet I cherish those memories.

Now that I have my own family, we have a Thanksgiving tradition where we get out a notebook and go around in turn saying something for which we are grateful.

Some of the things might include our family, cousins, our dog and our home. Our kids list fun things like Taylor Swift, Legos or the Nintendo Switch. And then there are things of a spiritual nature, like The Book of Mormon, The Holy Bible, prayer, church, baptism, The Holy Ghost, temples, prophets, apostles, Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and His Infinite Atonement.

By the end, we’ve filled an entire page with our blessings. Our Thanksgiving prayers become a little more reflective.

Having an attitude of gratitude brings joy.

I hope we don’t tuck it away today on Black Friday and forget about all of the blessings we have been given.

I hope our hearts are content.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t get a good deal on something.

However, I pray that we may keep that spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts as we turn to the Christmas season of peace and good will towards all men, and ultimately turn our hearts towards Jesus Christ and His birth.

One of my great heroes recently passed away. M. Russell Ballard was the acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He taught, “What matters most is what lasts the longest.” He went on to say, “What matters most is our relationships with Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, our families, and our neighbors.”

What wise counsel. Happiness will never come from things we buy.

May we all focus on what matters most, count our many blessings, and see what God has done in our life.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles, ComeUntoChrist.org. His email is jasonbring@gmail.com.

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