We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has plagued us for almost two years. Yet there is so much for which we can be grateful.
I have very fond Thanksgiving memories; both of the food and of family.
In my youth, we would gather at my grandmother’s home. Many of my cousins, aunts and uncles would also be there. I made sure that we always played the board game Clue.
I can still smell the turkey and stuffing which would permeate the entire home.
There was just something about grandma’s cooking. I don’t think that I’ve ever had stuffing or pumpkin pie quite as good as hers. Everything was made from scratch and adjusted to taste.
The kitchen was small, compared to today’s homes, but somehow we had large family gatherings. Those were happy days.
Grandma is no longer with us, and as my own family has grown, we have adopted some of my family traditions and some of my wife’s family traditions.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that is much anticipated, and not just because of the stuffing, but I’ll admit that it’s still my favorite part of the meal.
One Thanksgiving tradition is to make a list of things for which we are grateful.
With children varying in ages, our list is long and includes everything from indoor plumbing to Mario Kart.
We will typically name every pie that we can think of as well.
We jot down every family member — grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and even pets.
We also write down things more of a spiritual nature, like God, the scriptures, prophets, church, God’s creations and the beautiful area where we call home.
In the end, we have a page or two filled with things for which we are thankful.
We finish the activity with a prayer thanking our Father in Heaven for the incredible gifts and blessings that He has bestowed upon us.
As I review the list, I can’t help but reflect that it’s a wonderful life, just like George Bailey realized in the movie with the same title.
A beloved hymn written by Charles H. Gabriel says, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.”
Have you ever thought about how the Creator of the world and of the universe loves you? Have you ever thought of how we are important to Him?
The hymn goes on to say, “I marvel that he would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.”
Thanksgiving is a time when I marvel at everything God has given me.
Viktor Frankl said in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I believe having an attitude of gratitude pleases God. Each day, we can try writing down or sharing at the dinner table something for which we are appreciative.
1 Chronicles 16:34 says, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.” The prophet Amulek taught that we should “live in thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38).
Daily prayer to our Father in Heaven expressing recognition of our blessings helps us to remember the Lord’s kindness.
Last November, during a special message on gratitude, Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems.”
He explained that gratitude actually has a healing power, giving us “greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”
As we celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, I pray that we will keep living thanksgiving daily, well beyond Black Friday.
May God’s favors and blessings be upon you and yours this holiday season.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five 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. His email is [email protected]