I’ve seen many people use the month of November to list things they are thankful for, but do we abandon that in December just in time for the chaos of preparing for a holiday that is supposed to be peaceful?
Several years ago, I took Ann Voskamp’s challenge to write down 1000 gifts*: things I’m thankful for in the day-to-day. I started the list on January 10 and the last entry unexpectedly landed on Thanksgiving day – a gift in itself.
While driving through a snowstorm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I was listening to a podcast on gratitude. One of the practices she recommended was making a list of 3 things each night (Check! Done that before!), but another was to think of a stressful or hard situation in your life and zoom in on something to be grateful for in that very situation.
I confess. I’m pretty good at being thankful, but I’m not so good in hard situations. I tend to allow my mind to chew things over in a negative way and let them ruin my day more often than I should. This really challenged me.
As I drove mile after mile slowly through whiteness, I began to hash through that very situation. You see, there are many things to be thankful for about driving through a snowstorm in the UP.
- No one else is on the road. I mean no one. So, I don’t have to worry about hitting anyone.
- The roads are very wide. Who cares which lane you are in? You can’t tell anyway. No one is there and the ditch is far to each side. Just keep going straight.
- Snow is not ice. As long as you keep moving and don’t stop, there is no unexpected sliding.
- Full tank of gas.
- Well maintained vehicle.
- Teenager next to me in the passenger seat. Yes, I was especially thankful for that. Surprise!
- Warm breakfast in my tummy. Since we weren’t going to make our destination on time anyway, we took extra time in the morning to fill up!
- Wool socks. Even with the heat on, it is colder in the UP. No joke.
- Scenery. Snowmygoodness! It was beautiful to see the snow line every branch of every tree through the forest (there is a LOT of forest in the UP). Four-foot waves crash the shore on one side of the road and cliffs of rock the other as we drove along the shoreline. Little towns look like they are straight out of a Hallmark movie. I don’t watch Hallmark movies, so I’m just guessing here.
Eleven hours on the road through bad weather could have been stressful and frustrating. Rush hour once we got back to the slushy Detroit area was stressful, but the trip as a whole was peaceful. As I had (extra) time to express my gratitude about little things to a big God, peace enveloped my minivan.
Maybe I can carry that peace into December…where it really belongs as I prepare my heart for the coming of the PeaceGiver.