5 Reasons To Celebrate Thanksgiving (even if it’s been a hard year)

Gratitude can get swallowed up in the bitter and hard. It can disappear in the daily grumblings and the acrid tears. 

That’s why Thanksgiving Day is vital to our well-being. It focuses us in at least 5 ways: 

  1. Reminds us that despite outward appearances sometimes to the contrary, each one of us is blessed 
  2. Strengthens relationships
  3. Lightens our heart just a bit
  4. Distracts us with the comfort of food and fellowship
  5. Prepares our heart posture for Advent/Christmas season

5 ways Thanksgiving is vital to our well-being. Can you think of others? Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving blessings

Yes, Thanksgiving blessings abound!

Be Reminded

Okay, I agree, blessings can seem absent when we’re in the throws of a difficult situation. During those times, it’s like God doled the gifts out to everyone else, but missed us. 

Oh, but dear sisters, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! God delights in blessing each of us.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

Although not always easily noticed to our human senses and understanding, we can count on blessings being there. Always. 

Intentionally seeking out the gifts of the day (even the seemingly little ones) brings an entirely new perspective and brightens cloudy days. 

Intentionally seeking out the gifts of the day brings an entirely new perspective and brightens cloudy days. Click To Tweet

Strengthen Relationships

As we gather with family, friends and neighbors over turkey and dressing we strengthen those relationships.

Sometimes Thanksgiving Day serves as a starting block to restore a broken relationship — an expected gathering that offers an opportunity to address uncomfortable issues. Other times, it’s about reconnecting and encouraging.

However, it looks — a family reunion, a get-together of friends, a local or church gathering — we all need community. And Thanksgiving is tailor-made for it. 

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Lighten Your Load

Sharing life with others can serve to lighten the load we carry. Even if we don’t want to bring up our deepest pain, chatting about the daily ebb and flow of life can be a great release.

It can often bring a new perspective as well. 

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Find Distractions and Comfort

Sometimes that hard thing won’t go away anytime soon. Thanksgiving can serve as a distraction from the weightiness of it all or bring a needed change to the everyday routine. 

Let the delicious once-a-year foods comfort you. Let yourself be drawn into the laughter and lightheartedness of the day.

Let yourself be refreshed!

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Prepare for Jesus

Thanksgiving opens into the season of Advent. That time of preparation for the birth of the Christ-child. 

As we take time to reflect on the gifts we’ve received throughout the year, our hearts become more aligned with the Lord. Creating a worshipful and humble attitude. 

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High. James 4:8

Thanksgiving Blessings

The commercial hype over Christmas threatens to swallow up Thanksgiving. Yet, the benefits of observing this day should not be underestimated. 

Let Thanksgiving be a time for relationship and food. Let it also be a time of cleansing, refreshing and humbling.

And since gratitude propagates humility, coming out of this season of thanks you’ll be in a perfect posture for receiving the Savior. 

Gratitude propagates humility, creating a perfect posture for receiving the Savior Click To Tweet

Reflections: How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? If you’re not in the United States, do you celebrate a day of thanksgiving? 

More than 4 years of counting and I’ve surpassed 4,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,495–4,515. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Special gift sent to us in gratitude and received with the same; Wonderful, most caring nurse for Rach and great doctor; Modern medicine
  • Hubby willing to watch sick little girl for the day; Having the flexibility to chaperone high school band activities; Awesome honor band concert
  • Visit from Mom, short but sweet!; Rachel back to her happy self; Working alongside our church youth and their parents making cakeballs
  • Wisdom to reframe my thoughts so frustrating happenings wouldn’t ruin the day; Humming goofy with Joey while working together in the kitchen; Date night with my guy
  • A day of Christmas candy and cookie making; Being inspired by the great music of David Phelps; Snow!
  • Early morning walk in the aftermath of the snowstorm; Helping my brother celebrate birthday #50; Good report for Dad
  • The intensity with which Rachel listened and responded to today’s sermon; Returning from church to a yardful of deer; Learning I can dump Windows 10 and return to 7

By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

6 comments on “5 Reasons To Celebrate Thanksgiving (even if it’s been a hard year)
  1. MelAnn says:

    Thank you, Julie, for this honest and real reflection on how to approach Thanksgiving. I needed to hear the encouragement to see my difficulties with refreshed eyes & heart of gratitude. My heart has been stirring over a particular relationship for Thur. and finding myself being intentional with my prayers for opening up to the possibility of good/restoration and being grateful for this relative even though it hasn’t always been that way through the hard stuff. Amazed at how the heart shifts – how Spirit moves within us. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    • Julie Sunne says:

      Wow, MelAnn, you’re heart of grace is shining through as you process how to restore this relationship with your relative. When we let the Holy Spirit into the deepest recesses of our heart, He moves in wondrous ways. Thank you for your kind words. Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones as well.

  2. Tara Ulrich says:

    Wow, 4000 gifts that is so awesome! I loved Ann’s book. I love what she says about our blessings: “The more we name our blessings, the more blessings we will be able to name.” Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Blessed to be your neighbor over at Angela’s place and the Ra Ra Linkup today.

  3. Dawn Klinge says:

    Thanksgiving is such an important day to observe. I love the points that you made. I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with my immediate family at home this year. It will be the first time that I haven’t traveled to be with extended family. I already feel more relaxed.

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