A friend of mine is 50 this year, but instead of drawing up a list of things he’d like for this landmark birthday he’s chosen 50 friends and sent us specially-chosen gifts as a thank you for our friendship and support.
I rather like the idea of turning the expected ‘want list’ on its head and using the milestone in his life as a way of saying thanks to people who have been an encouragement, an inspiration, or a shoulder to cry on through the years.
It’s a theme that rolls around quite often when I take school assemblies – the importance of saying thank you. Only recently I was visiting one of our local schools and asked the children who they might say thank you to each day. There was quite a list – teachers, parents, shopkeepers, each other. Then one very eager child announced loudly that we should thank God for everything!
It was a great reminder: throughout the Bible we are told that we should be thankful. The Psalmists write more than once, “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.” And in Ephesians St Paul tells us to, “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father.”
We’re not terribly good at saying thank you – certainly not to one another out of courtesy or politeness, and probably even less to God. And yet “Thank God!” is an exclamation you hear almost every day from people who are grateful for something positive happening, even if they don’t think of the divine implication of their words!
We celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving every year and it can be quite a struggle to remember what we are giving thanks for and to whom. I rather like the American Thanksgiving (kept in November), which celebrates the past as well as being grateful for the present. As George Washington decreed, it should be kept, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.
Perhaps it’s time for us to reclaim this phrase. Why not start or end your day with something like this: For all good gifts, for every act of kindness, for friends and family, for every blessing – THANK GOD!