With the holiday season in full swing we all turn our attention to preparation for the festivities. Thanksgiving turkeys are thawed, stuffing made, Christmas lists written, and a fever of busyness takes hold. In all the rush, and especially with the extreme commercialization of the holidays, people often forget to have gratitude in their hearts. After all, that is what these days were meant to remind us of. The Pilgrims had their Thanksgiving feast to express their gratitude to God for delivering them from persecution in England into a new world full of freedom and promise. Christmas is a celebration of the Christ-child’s birth and a reflection of gratitude for the life He would lead and the death He would suffer.
In this modern age however the meaning of these days of gratitude is lost. Even from a secular perspective, the higher virtues that Thanksgiving and Christmas represent (such as thankfulness, charity, togetherness, and family) have been lost to wave after wave of soulless materialism. The audacity of the irony that is Black Friday astonishes me sometimes. The thankful spirit and thoughts on Thursday are replaced not 24 hours later by mobs of people trampling each other and clamoring for the latest and greatest toys.
So what use does a minimalist have for the kind of attitude that has taken over the holiday season? I’ll leave it up to you to answer that question.
What needs to return to society today is gratitude. Gratitude for the things you have, not jealousy against those who have more than you. Thankfulness for the gifts God has given you and the people in your life. I have said before that minimalism is the active practicing of contentment. Continuing in that train of thought, gratitude is the natural result of contentment. When we are content with what we have we realize just how important each thing, or person in our lives is and we become that much more appreciative of it. Gratitude springs naturally from a contented heart.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas remember to be grateful for the blessings you have in your life. Take the time to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Survey the possessions you own and appreciate how each one makes your life better. Choose to use your time wisely. Put thought and meaning into the gifts that you give to others. And most of all be grateful. For that is something that everyone, not just minimalists, should have in abundance.