3 ways to make Thanksgiving count

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! The combination of family, great food and football is tough to beat. The turkey coma that hits me at about 3 p.m. is a thing of beauty. Christmas is spectacular, but the food at Thanksgiving wins by a landslide.

Let me offer three suggestions how you can make this Thanksgiving a day to truly be thankful.

  1. Thank loved ones.

Take the opportunity to intentionally tell the people closest to you how thankful you are for them. 

Often I take the people closest to me for granted. Because my family and closest friends are part of my everyday life I can easily ignore how much they mean to me. This morning, I heard the heart-breaking story of a friend of ours who lost her husband in a tragic hunting accident. Neither of them woke up thinking that today was their last day together. Because life is so fleeting, I am encouraging you to tell the people who you love most how you feel about them. Take 20 minutes this Thursday to tell all these people face-to-face how special they really are.

  1. Thank God.

Spend some time talking to God about how thankful you are for Him and all He has done. 

Honestly, I often spend most of my time in prayer asking for things instead of thanking God for things. My list of prayer requests continually grows and rarely do I stop and thank my Heavenly Father for all He has given me. The last several years I have found myself so busy with young kids and fun family things that I miss thanking God for who He is and His many blessings He has showered on us. Imagine what it must feel like for God to watch a ton of people celebrating “Thanksgiving” but only thanking Him for the universe He created and the salvation He freely gives in a quick prayer before we gorge ourselves on dressing.

So, this Thanksgiving join me for 15 minutes of thankfulness with God. Take a journal or your i-Phone and write down all the things you are grateful for concerning God’s character and His faithful provision.

  1. Give back.

Thanksgiving is one of the hardest days of the year for people far away from family.

The realization that there are people all around you who are celebrating with loved ones while you are alone in your home is a dagger in a lonely heart. One of the most gracious things you can do this year is invite someone who is alone over for a meal and emotional warmth. I remember when I lived far from home. The holiday season was the darkest season to endure. I am eternally grateful to my friends who would invite me over for the afternoon and share their lives with me. It may have been the only thing that kept me sane during years of loneliness.


Written by Mike Harder

Mike was born and raised as a missionary kid in Bogota, Colombia. After moving to the states, Mike attended Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., and graduated with a B.A. in Church Ministry. He then moved to Memphis and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike and his wife, Tabitha, and their two daughters, Abigail and Violet, live in Brentwood, Tenn. He has written two studies for LifeWay: In Transit: What Do You Do with Your Wait? and Jaded. His passions are coffee, friendships and basketball.