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What will your footprint look like?

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Just imagine if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today. What would you have? Would you have family? Or friends? Or church or a job? Or a Thanksgiving meal?

As most of us gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, but do we consider the impact of them on us or us on them? When you close the door behind you as you head home, or to another dinner, what kind of footprint will you leave behind? Will they be glad you came because you brightened up a tough and dark year or did you make a difference in anyone's joy?

An old African proverb says, "Even an old hen raises its head to heaven when it swallows its grain." The happiest life is one that is thankful and grateful. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays often bring on a lot of emotional stress. Being thankful is, hopefully, the most prominent emotion, but some will feel anxiety, fear, regret and even sadness.

Anxiety is just part of preparing a big meal for a big crowd, but there are other emotions that can adversely affect your entire holiday. Some people feel fear about seeing family; others feel regret over the past; some pretend they like certain people when in reality, they don't. That creates stress and assures you won't have a good time. Others feel sadness because this is the first holiday without a loved one. (That is our family without our mother). Still others just don't want to get out or mix with family. They may feel pressured to attend a big dinner with people who feel like strangers. Others just refuse to participate. For these reasons, there are people who do not look forward to the holidays.

What would it be like if no one judged another just one day of the year? What if that day was Thanksgiving? What if your joy spread to everyone else? The question remains, what kind of footprint will you leave behind this holiday? No matter how we feel about a holiday, in all these emotional situations, there is always someone who is bigger than what's going on around us. Having a good time during the holidays will depend on you. Will you act or react? Will you be grateful for the opportunity to get together? Or will you dread it? Or, avoid it?

The degree by which we are grateful and thankful will be the degree to which we enjoy the holidays. What would your life look like the day after Thanksgiving if you only had what you thanked God for? When we express feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, then feelings of gratitude and thankfulness grow.

I understand this is a different slant on Thanksgiving, but the truth is: some people have a hard time with family get-togethers. It's not easy for them.

There is a remedy for people who dread holidays. It is this: don't think of yourself this time. Think of intentionally bringing joy to others.

If you are a history buff, you will know George Washington was immensely popular after the Revolutionary war. Everyone was ready for him to be king or dictator. He could have taken any title he wanted, but instead he chose to share his glory and go a different route that involved a democracy which would give all the people a voice. That was his way of showing gratitude for freedom. He had the political backing to be a dictator, but he chose to show his thankfulness by sharing his glory.

To me, that's the beauty of holidays. It's taking my mind off me and thinking of the good and peace I can bring into the lives of others. Like George Washington, handing the gavel of glory to the people, he found a place of peace and contentment in his own life. Isn't that what we all want? Peace and contentment?

And think of this: Why wouldn't we be thankful when Jesus promised us such a wonderful "pay for service". In Revelation 22:12 we read, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." The word "reward" simply means "a pay for service." This Thanksgiving may we all put away differences and focus on a day of peace. Choose to be thankful and grateful. The kind of footprint we leave really does matter.

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