How To Put Happy Into Your Thanksgiving

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!”
Psalm 118:1

When I think of Thanksgiving the first thing that comes to mind isn’t Turkey or pumpkin pie (but they are high on the list). The first thing that I think about when someone says the word “Thanksgiving” is gratitude, being grateful. The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means, “grace, graciousness, or gratefulness”. Gratitude is the thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible.

With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives, and in the process of acknowledging goodness in our lives we usually discover that the source of goodness comes from without not within ourselves. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” The end result of being grateful is a connection to God and with others. It’s no wonder then that the apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Being grateful not only helps to connect you to God and others, being grateful has tremendous benefits to our personal health and well being. Are you aware that being grateful helps you relax and not be so stressed out? Gratitude relaxes us in ways that the tryptophan in turkey never can. Being grateful is a way for us to appreciate what we have instead of what we lack. Being grateful provides for us a sense of satisfaction because gratitude produces contentment. Lots of studies have been done in the field of psychology and human behavior that directly link unhappiness to ingratitude. Science has concluded that the more grateful you are the happier you become.

So how can we cultivate gratitude in our lives this Thanksgiving when it seems for so many this past year has been so hard? How do we look back and be thankful? In a word, refocus. Instead of thinking on all that was wrong with this past year refocus your thought process to appreciate what you do have. There is an old expression that says, “you don’t realize how good you have it until you don’t have it any more.” For many this year they will look back over a year of loses but those loses can be a time to appreciate the impact the person, place or thing had on your life. Gratitude allows for us to relive the good times amidst the bad.

Thank you cards or notes expressing our gratitude are a great way to experience greater happiness at the holidays. For many sending out handwritten notes or Christmas cards this time of year is a great way to be encouraged as well as providing hope and appreciation for the special people in your life. Gratitude sent out by way of cards helps connect us to our current and past relationships. Gratitude is the bridge we cross that brings us all together. It’s no wonder Thanksgiving is a highlight in so many homes. It’s a time to come together and thank God for the blessings we have, for family for friends and all the little miracles that have brought us to this day and not just the events of this past year. Being grateful takes us all the way back to the Cross of Jesus.

Being grateful for Jesus Christ and the Cross He bore provides meaning and purpose for the past, peace for today and hope for a better tomorrow. Being grateful to God puts life in perspective. Being grateful doesn’t mean everything in life is good, it simply acknowledges that, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And thats how you put the happy in Thanksgiving!

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:1-5


Michael Osthimer





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