I’m sitting in an airport, waiting for my flight back to Minneapolis that has been delayed. All I can say is thank goodness I’m going to my Grams’ for Thanksgiving dinner, because I’m starving.

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. Food, family, and sleep. At the same time, it’s disheartening to me that we need to dedicate a day to giving thanks because every day we should be grateful and thankful, filling our hearts with kindness and joy. It makes me sad that most of the world (myself included) is moving so fast on a short-sighted track that we need a reminder to stop and think about being thankful.

At this time of year I know people who make lists, who check things off in their prayer of what they’re thankful for. I know people who think of one specific thing each day of November, which I think is a wonderful practice. I’ve done these things, but this year I choose to be thankful for one central thing that might be implied in our thanks, but is never spoken outright.

This year I am most grateful for love.

It is the greatest gift that has been given us, and I don’t think it’s overlooked, but we give thanks for it in a roundabout way. We say “thank you for being a part of my life” or “I am thankful for you” but I have never heard “I am thankful for your love.” The ability to give and receive love is the most precious and beautiful of gifts.

This morning at the airport the process was quick and painless. Everyone was nice and very helpful, and I hope they receive kindness in return. I admit I would have a hard time being helpful and friendly watching everyone go home to their families while I was stuck scanning their boarding passes. The man in front of me at security was just lovely. He let me go in front of him, joked about how he didn’t have to go anywhere anytime soon, making his flight delay lighthearted. He smiled at everyone and wished me a safe flight. I don’t know his name or where he’s flying to, but I felt as if I knew him. Experiencing kindness from strangers is always a blessing to me.

My sister won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year. She’s flying to Colorado to spend the weekend with her boyfriend and his family. I don’t like change and many traditions will be broken. Then I remember two years ago, when I had first moved to Chicago for school. The few months before this holiday were at that time the longest we’d ever gone without seeing each other. I remember getting off of the greyhound, looking around for her and my parents. I caught sight of her across the building in her bright red coat. She saw me, pointed, and waved. I was so excited, I almost started crying and just stood there bouncing while she did her princess shuffle run through the crowds and attacked me with a hug. She may not be here physically, but she’s here in spirit. She loves me and will be thinking of me over the course of the weekend (But we can’t go see Frozen together, which is supposed to be the ultimate sister movie for us, so I do take offense to that ;)).

It’s love that keeps us in people’s lives – or it should be. I am so blessed with a family that loves me. I’ve had differences with friends over the years, but we’re still there for each other when it matters because in the end we love each other and that’s what counts. I have a wonderful man in my life who treats me with such love and respect, even after times of hardship we have it in our hearts to still care for each other. That is a gift that so many take for granted. We take those close to us for granted so often, because we know they love us and always will. Instead of taking their love for granted we should be humbled by it, cherish it and return it in kind. We take God’s love for granted too, because we know he won’t abandon us.

Today and this weekend when you’re making your lists and nodding your thanks through a mouthful of mashed potatoes, take a moment and look around at those who love you. If you are unable to be with those you love this holiday, you can think about them, and know that they’re there in your heart and be thankful for that. Think about Black Friday, how it’s heightened our love for things, for objects. Wonderful bargains, yes, but less valuable than spending time with family and friends. Stop buying things that can’t give you anything and start spending time with those who can give you everything. Hold love in your heart for everyone. Smile at a stranger. Pardon someone if they wrong you. Now’s a great time to start. And then try to carry that into your life beyond the stuffing.

Love is a powerful thing. Be thankful for it.

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