Tom Gilson

Thanksgiving Clichés Are Just Fine With Me

It’s Thanksgiving Day in America, a day that poses a bit of a problem for Christian bloggers: how to speak our thankfulness without saying what everyone else has already said. It is the challenge of avoiding the trite holiday message.

I was mulling this over when it occurred to me how thankful I am for Thanksgiving clichés. I’m glad there are so many words of gratitude for all the usual things: for God revealed in Jesus Christ, for family, life, provision, friendship, health, and all the ordinary things for which ordinary people say thanks. Not that ordinary means universal: some of us are struggling with family relationships, with health, or with finding jobs. But when we take time to give thanks, it is these simple but central kinds of things that come first to almost all our minds. We have similar short lists of what’s most important.

These short lists do not change much over the years. I doubt that many feast-table prayers tomorrow will open with words of gratitude for iPads or Android phones. Sometimes in our family we’ve taken time for extended gratitude sessions, where we go around the room a dozen times or more, each of us in turns mentioning something for which we’re thankful. In a setting like that I’ll eventually mention the latest great technology I’ve had opportunity to use. The first several rounds, though, are always about the same old stuff: mom and dad, brother and sister, God’s love, our home, our country, our cat…

Creativity and variety are good, but within limits. I for one am thankful for the same things I trust you are thankful for, and if we all repeat off the same list, that’s not a bad thing at all. The ordinary is more extraordinary than we recognize most of the time. This is a great time to be grateful to God for it.


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