Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This national holiday is typically a day of feasting with family and friends and more football games than you can shake a turkey leg at. There are three NFL and two NCAA college games today. If that is not enough to satisfy you, there are 66 other college games and 12 more NFL games this weekend.

And, of course, tomorrow is Black Friday. It seems that this day for shopping just about overshadows the gathering of family and friends and surpasses the glut of football games.

All of this and more clouds my thinking as I prepare to reflect on thanksgiving. I thought about recapping the history of this national holiday. Then my mind went to memories from past family gatherings on the fourth Thursday of November. I considered describing my favorite foods of the season. Or I could tell you about different traditions associated with this special day.

Instead I want to consider some of the attitudes and actions of thankful people. Not what thankful people do but what thankful people don’t do.

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Thankful people don’t complain. If a person’s heart is truly filled with gratitude, they are generous in their praise of others and expressions of gratitude for their blessings. When one truly appreciates life and all that it offers, there is no time or desire to register complaints. Thankful people focus on what they have rather than complain about what they do not have. Grateful people see things in proper perspective and recognize that things could always be worse so they celebrate regardless of the circumstances.

People who are truly thankful don’t complain, they find reasons to be grateful. Matthew Henry, who wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible, was once robbed. The thieves took everything of value that he had. Later that evening he wrote in his diary these words, “I am thankful that during these years I have never been robbed before. Also, even though they took my money, they did not take my life. Although they took all I had, it was not much. Finally, I am grateful that it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” He had every reason to complain but instead he was thankful.

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Thankful people don’t hoard. Truly grateful people are generous with whatever they have and find pleasure in sharing with others. Their security is not related to things so there is no need to guard their possessions. Stockpiling material things or refusing to share privilege or power is a symptom of selfishness, insecurity, and ingratitude.

It is obvious to me that the more we hold onto things the less thankful we are. The more we give away the more reason we have to give thanks. Thankful people really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Thankful people don’t forget. They recognize that everything one has or achieves is not necessarily the result of their own ability, intelligence, or ingenuity. Many factors contribute to the benefits and blessings a person may possess. Thankful people remember the kindness and generosity of others.Genuine gratitude recognizes the contributions of individuals and realizes that opportunities and resources have been available to them that others might have been denied.

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While there are at least these three “don’ts” to thanksgiving, there are some things to do. Do give thanks, rejoice don’t complain. Do give thanks, be generous not tight. Do give thanks, don’t forget what others have done for you and most of all, remember God, who gave us His son for our salvation and has provided for us life eternal and life abundant.

Jamie Jenkins

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