I know, I know Thanksgiving is over and I’m supposed to be talking all things Christmas. I’m supposed to be writing a post that will make you feel guilty for having an Elf on the Shelf, or a post that make you feel like a Grinch for not having one. My Instagram should be filled with pictures of my neatly decorated house, while I share my already planned Christmas menu.
I’m supposed to have moved on from Thanksgiving.
Except I have no idea what I’m cooking for Christmas. I’m staying out of the whole Elf on the Shelf debate. I just am. No ones salvation rests on the shenanigans of a toy elf. And while I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree as I type this, my house is far from Instagram worthy.
Half of my decorations are still in boxes, and I still have ceramic turkeys on my kitchen table.
I’m trying to get there, but there is only so much energy and time in the day.
I’ve had mixed emotions about the approaching holidays. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, but this year is different. My emotions are all over the place.
I want to enjoy the season, but I feel guilty for enjoying the season.
But as I go to the Throne of Grace and try make sense of all these feelings, I hear that still small voice leading me to chose gratitude.
It’s a small thing, but so significant.
And what better time for gratitude than at Christmas time.
Last year when I wrote about giving thanks in difficult seasons, I made this closing statement, “I’m realizing that the key to focusing our hearts on Christ at Christmas might just be to focus on thankfulness at Thanksgiving.”
The celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday is just beginning. We need to continue the spirit of thanksgiving all the way through the holiday season. And really year round.
It’s so easy this time of year to get caught up in trying to make sure everything is perfect. We make sure all the right decorations are up, all the right presents are wrapped up under the tree, and all the right food is prepared, but those things aren’t what make the day special.
Christmas is special because of what we’re celebrating, not how we celebrate.
We can piously avoid all celebration of Christmas and still have an ungrateful heart. We can preach about keeping Christ in Christmas all we want, but if we leave out gratitude, we’re still missing the point.
The celebration of the birth of Christ, how ever we celebrate, must begin in our hearts, with gratitude.
Ingratitude is a disease running rampant throughout our culture. We want more, more, more and never stop to give thanks for what we already have. A look at the lines in the stores this past Friday will tell you that. If you were an alien from outer space, you’d have no idea that it was the day after the day we supposedly gave thanks.
Ingratitude is a monster that comes in and steals our joy. It keeps us focused on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. It makes us feel as though everything in our lives is wrong. Ingratitude isolates us from loved ones and makes us believe that no one cares.
An ungrateful spirit blinds us to blessings of God that are all around us each and every day.
This is why we are constantly complaining, one reason why we won’t settle down until everything is “perfect,” one of the reasons we get pouty when things don’t go our way, and why we can’t seem to find any joy in our hearts.
Joy is ours for the taking. It’s one of the fruits of The Spirit, but we have to cultivate our relationship with The Spirit in order to have those fruits. An ungrateful spirit is one of the biggest barriers in that relationship.
So many times we ignore the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all things. But if we look at the book of James, we can see why ingratitude might actually be a sin.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17
We know we should give thanks, but so many times we don’t. God’s Word calls that sin. And sin a hindrances to our relationship with Him. It grieves The Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30)
That’s why ingratitude is such a dangerous thing. It’s a deadly poison that slips in before we even know it and steals our joy.
We don’t have to let it though. We have the antidote to this poison already at our disposal. The antidote is just to stop and give thanks. Stop complaining, stop comparing, stop trying to make things perfect, stop wishing things were different, and start giving thanks for what is right now.
So this year I’ve purposed in my heart to focus on gratitude. To give thanks, even on the hard days. I want my children to focus on gratitude too, and I’ve been thinking of ways we can accomplish this. I had a flash of inspiration while sitting in front of our Christmas tree, or maybe it was in the middle of church… Cough.
I printed off pages with a Bible verse and space for writing down what we’re thankful for each day until Christmas day. The verses will serve as a reminder of what we’re celebrating, and writing down what we’re thankful for help us focus our hearts in the right place.
Because I don’t want to be a grinchy mama, I thought a fun way to introduce this concept might be with our Elf so I wrote an elf letter to go with it. Yes, we have an Elf. I know you were dying to know that. We won’t be using the book that comes with the elf, so the letter will introduce both the elf and our Christmas gratitude project. (Yes, those are affiliate links.)
If you don’t think my idea is too crazy insane and you’d like to join us, you can get the free printable by clicking on the image below. You print the pages you want, and incorporate them however you wish. It would make a nice addition to a homeschool or advent study.
Have fun and be grateful!
Click the image, or click here to get the free printable.
I’m linking this up with Grace & Truth.