This week in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. The purity and simplicity of this holiday is quite profound – set aside time to give thanks for all we have.
Yet in the midst of meal preparations, football and parades, the simplicity of Thanksgiving is often lost. Not only that, but the very act of giving thanks can sometimes feel trite, or rote.
Do you ever feel this way? You know that giving thanks – having an attitude of gratitude – is good for your mental and emotional state. It makes you more generous and giving too. But sometimes you may feel like you’re going through the motions. Saying the same things again and again can rob the words of their power.
I struggled with that myself. While preparing this post I wondered what I could say that hasn’t been said better by so many others. I wrote different ideas about holiday memories, stories from my childhood, and more. Nothing seemed right.
Eventually I turned to the Psalms. They are where I go when I am feeling joy, sorrow, or confusion. They are filled with raw human emotion – from praise to lament – and often only a few verses apart. So like how we experience life. With all its ups and downs. Pain, joy, grief, victory, comfort, peace.
A perfect example is Psalm 9. It starts out saying
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
David then goes on to recite what God has done for him and his people.
- Caused enemies to stumble
- Upheld what is right
- Established his throne
Here’s the other side, only a few verses later. David’s life wasn’t going well when he wrote this. His enemies were persecuting him. He asked God to lift him up from the gates of death. Not exactly a picnic. Yet, even in the midst of his struggle he chose to remember what he was grateful for. Recite his blessings. Find the beauty in his life.
Gratitude in the midst of the turmoil. The mess.
You can see that even back more than 2500 years, people were taking time to be thankful. Speaking words of gratitude. Even back then they knew this – gratitude transforms our attitude.
In David’s case, he wasn’t speaking words of gratitude; he was singing them. In fact, most psalms were meant to be sung. Why? It helped them memorize the words. And music has a way of reaching us that mere words often don’t. Yet, we don’t have a lot of Thanksgiving songs. Oh sure there is “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and “We Gather Together”, but that’s pretty much it. No industry pumping out Thanksgiving songs or albums, like they do for Christmas.
So here’s a radical thought – why not write your own Thanksgiving song? Don’t just make a list of what you’re grateful for. Put it to music. You could compose your own tune or use a melody you already know.
Why should you try this? Because it’s different. And we humans tend to get bored with the same routine. Writing your gratitude list in poem form is great for the creative brain. And setting your list to music will help you remember. You might even decide to sing it every Thanksgiving.
Give it a try. Write your own Thanksgiving song. You can sing your way through Thanksgiving. Even if you can’t carry a tune.
What are you most grateful for right this moment? Please leave a comment below.