Somehow this Thanksgiving I ended up at the kid’s table. It wasn’t intentional but it was pretty fitting. While other adults around the county talked about football and Obamacare, I had a riveting discussion about how good ham is. We all agreed. It’s delicious.
After the meal everyone gathered inside for the candy corn tradition our aunt Deb started years ago. Everyone pretends to hate this but I think we all kind of love it. I know I do. I’m sure tons of families have a similar or maybe even identical tradition where you pass a bowl of candy corn and can’t eat one until you share one thing you were thankful for that year. You can’t just say “family” because we’re all family. You have to say why. And the “saying why” part is my favorite part of Thanksgiving.
This year we passed MnM’s because my cousin conveniently “forgot” to bring the candy corn. As the bowl passed, gratitude came spilling forth from relatives at all different stages of life.
The young ones, thankful for school;
the engaged cousin thankful she said yes;
the sister-in-law thankful for her job;
the cousin thankful for his life-long friends;
the uncle thankful for his sons;
the grandma thankful for her grandkids, etc.
I probably won’t remember what most people said this Thanksgiving, but I don’t think I’ll soon forget what my brother said. After several relatives talked about how blessed they have been by their kids, Trent began his turn by saying, “I’m thankful that I don’t have kids.”
We laughed because he sounded like such a kid-hater, but then he explained that he and his wife do want kids one day. But for now, for today, he is thankful for this time with just her; thankful for this stage of life where they aren’t sleep deprived, they don’t need a babysitter to go to the movies, and a quick trip to Target can actually be quick. He is thankful for the season God has him in right now.
This wisdom from the guy who still spits his boogers at me and tells people to pull his finger…
My brother’s candy corn thanks seemed to echo the words of Paul. “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:11-12).
No matter the circumstance, no matter the stage of life, true contentment can always be found in Christ.
Whether you’re a single gal frequenting the movie theaters by yourself…
whether you’re newly engaged and planning a wedding…
whether you’re married without kids or with babies and young kids or with acne-ridden teenagers or with grown kids who have their own kids…
no matter the stage, there is thanks to be found in that season. We simply need to look.
The danger comes when we start comparing seasons. When I look at my soon-to-be cousin with a shiny new ring on her finger, it would be easy to think, “Gosh, I wish that was me saying I’m thankful for expensive jewelry.” But instead, I’ll choose to rejoice with her and be grateful that I have so much time to pour into my niece and nephews and can eat pizza 5 nights in a row if I want to and watch Nashville and Scandal without ever having to watch SportsCenter.
When I look at my cousins so thankful for their adorable kids and my siblings who have such gratitude for their hilarious children, it would be easy to envy their season of life. But instead, I’ll choose to play with those adorable children and then hand them back when they are less-than-adorable and need a butt spanked or a butt wiped. I’ll choose to be grateful that right now my stage of life doesn’t require me to discipline toddlers or deal with human poop.
Each season brings its highs and its lows, its joys and its trials. The key is to focus on the joys rather than the trials and to revel is the highs of the current season rather than long for the highs of a different season.
As one who all-too often forgets and longs for the highs of a different season, I am so thankful that my booger-spitting little brother reminded me to be thankful for today’s joys.