I might have a bone to pick with Thanksgiving.

I mean, I love a sleep-inducing, kitchen-trashing, dirty-every-pot-in-the-house, gain-five-pounds-in-one-day, deliciously decadent traditional Thanksgiving dinner just as much as the next person. Even when it means scrubbing mashed potatos off the radiator (courtesy of the 1 year old), sweet potatos off the fish tank (courtesy of the 3 year old with a really good arm), and fishing pie crumbs out from under the stove (that wouldn’t be my fault would it?). It’s like the ultimate in comfort food feasting shared with family and friends. And I’m not even sure I mind the added expenditures – a turkey dinner with all the trimmings adds up fast, especially for a family of 8 plus relatives. (My grocery budget is bleeding out, but that’s ok, the leftovers will sustain us for quite some time).

Thanksgiving is a great day to celebrate being together and being thankful for all that God has given us. Except that I think spending 1 day being thankful for 1 giant feast kind of defeats the purpose. Spending 1 day proclaiming our gratitude for our families, friends, jobs, food, warm homes, sports teams, toys, tech, and pets is just the tip of the iceberg. Hmm, maybe more like the size of an icecube. It just doesn’t cut the cranberry sauce, er, mustard.

Joy is born out of gratitude. Not just a one time, once a year spirit of thankfulness. Not just a once a day blessing on the dinner meal. But a life lived in constant gratittude to the Giver of all good gifts.  I can’t help but wonder if, when I’m unhappy, its because I’m not being grateful? Today, I caught myself getting cranky because – just when I wanted to show the tiny humans a video on letters and the sounds they make  – the computer decided to install 36 updates. 36! Tiny humans can’t wait that long. And apparently, grown up humans aren’t so good for 36 updates, either.  But then I realized what a ‘first world’ problem that is. I’m feeling a little bit entitled here – to a clean, warm home, with lots of food, cars that go, tech constantly at my finger tips, while some people are struggling to find a meal or to live in a home with heat and electricity. I am so routinely blessed by what we consider to be basic necessities that I fail to appreciate them.

Last night, I lay in bed, listening to the quiet crackle of the fire slowly dying in the wood stove and the gentle hum of the baby monitor reminding me that my children were cozied up peacefully in their quilts. A kitty purring happily at my feet. A house-full of filled up tummies, snuggled up and warm, resting sweetly.  The struggles of the day fading into the shadows of the night, as I try to pass them on to our God who never slumbers or sleeps.

This, I thought, is the real thanksgiving. It is beginning of contentment, the genesis of gratitude. Baby steps towards joy.