I was looking through my weeklyjournals, all the way back to November 1998, surprised how few times I wrote about the joys of Thanksgiving. I was certain I’d written more

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving. Maybe because I don’t personally participate in the two frenzied traditions – cooking and shopping. I enjoy cooking, but don’t really cook anything myself unless trapped in a corner. And I enjoy shopping for gifts, but would rather pay more for something than dive headfirst into Black Friday.

It’s curious that I enjoy Thanksgiving so much when the traditional Thanksgiving foods I long for are few: leftover turkey sandwiches and Cyndi’s homemade apple pie. I can eat almost anything if the social situation demands it, but I’m no longer tempted to eat green bean casserole, brown-sugared sweet potatoes, Jell-O salad, anything with cranberries, anything with pumpkin, or even dressing.

On several occasions, usually after running the Turkey Trot in either Dallas or Ft. Worth, we end up eating Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel. I order the chicken-fried steak with corn and (plain) green beans. It is wonderful.

So why do I enjoy Thanksgiving so much when I don’t enjoy so much of the regular fair? I think because we always eat with people we love, usually a lot of them, and we take our time and enjoy the company as much as the food. In our family, we laugh more than anything else.

But of course, the Thanksgiving meal isn’t the most important part, is it. As Americans we get plenty of food all year long, and most of us eat too much of it every time we sit at the table. The most important aspect of Thanksgiving is the name itself. Thanksgiving.

Brene Brown, in The Gifts of Imperfection, described our real hunger like this: “We're a nation hungry for more joy: Because we're starving from a lack of gratitude.”

Ms. Brown understands practicing gratitude to be fundamental in our search for wholehearted living. She wrote, “When it comes to gratitude, the word that jumped out at me throughout the research process is practice. As someone who thought that knowledge was more important than practice, I found these words to be a call to action. For years, I subscribed to the notion of an “attitude of gratitude.” I’ve since learned that an attitude is an orientation or a way of thinking and that “having an attitude” doesn’t always translate to a behavior. It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works - it’s not alive.”

I’ve noticed several of my Facebook friends counting down the days of November by listing something they are thankful for, something different every day. I’m thankful for their reminder that being grateful takes initiative.

This year I’m grateful for big changes. Cyndi’s sister Tanya just bought a new house here in Midland, and she and her son Kevin have spent the past two weeks moving in. It’s a phase change for all of us, and big changes like that create energy and excitement.

I’m grateful to have Cyndi back all to myself, but even more happy to witness Tanya and Kevin moving boldly into the next chapter of their life. Fresh starts should be savored, never wasted.

I’m grateful for all the young couples in the Compass class at First Baptist Church. You make me happy. I look forward to leading in class every week, and I hope we have many more years together.

I’m also grateful for the valiant men God as surrounded me with every Thursday morning. In my old life, I underestimated the value of having good men around me. Not anymore. The Iron Men make me braver, stronger, and bolder. Thanks, guys.

I’m grateful that my own children have become fine adults and faithful parents. Knowing the future is in their hands is comforting.

I’m grateful for the drive God has given me to write and teach. I would have missed almost every lesson I’ve learned had it not been for my desire to tell the stories.

I’m grateful that my legs can still move. I am not ready to sit down, yet. I think God has too much more to teach me, and I need to keep running and hiking and biking to hear his words in my heart.

I’m grateful to live with a woman that loves me with all her heart, who works very hard to stay sexy and beautiful, and who listens to all my ramblings. Without Cyndi, I would be a lonely pathetic shell of a man; I am grateful for all the ways she has changed me these past 35 years.

And finally, for those of you who read this far, I’m grateful for you. A writer is not a writer unless he has readers. Thanks.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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