Happy Thanksgiving! As I usually do on this day, I am linking my traditional Thanksgiving post, first posted on my personal blog in 2006. I won’t repost the whole thing here, but it tells a story about my daughter when she was a baby. (This time next year, she will be in college.) The short version is that I walked out of a music concert with her because she was upset. I sat in the car with her, and held her in my arms . . . and had a better time than I would have had in the concert.
Here’s the key part: the post asks you to imagine your life today — right now — as if you were an older version of yourself, sent back in time to briefly relive this moment and this day:
And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?
The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.
I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.
This is the best Thanksgiving gift I can give you. It’s nothing more than a way of focusing your mind on the present. Of being aware of the now. This life is God’s gift to us. We honor Him by giving thanks, and by living it as acutely aware as possible of the greatness of the gift.
This advice is tougher to follow in hard times. For those having a difficult time of it right now, there is this advice: dwell on the good. At my personal site, my guest blogger Dana (for whom I am thankful, as I am thankful for my guest blogger JVW and all my readers) gives us this passage to reflect on from Phillippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The bonus music today is a short and incomplete cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach on the theme of giving thanks to God. It is BWV 192: “Nun danket alle Gott” (Now Let Everyone Thank God).
The text is here, and these are the words of the opening chorus:
Now let everyone thank God
with hearts, mouths, and hands,
Who does great things
for us and to all ends,
Who has done for us from our mother’s wombs
and childhood on
many uncountable good things
and does so still today.