This original Oklahoma girl received oceans of cultural lessons during the Hawaii years. One of those centered around birthday parties. Unlike here on the mainland, kids in Hawaii don’t open birthday gifts in front of their friends. Gifts are opened privately out of respect for different financial situations and giving abilities and to avoid the comparison trap. So you leave birthday parties full of Kalua pork, cabbage, poi, birthday cake, and a generous helping of the ohana spirit. But you won’t get to take the reaction the child had to the gifts with you.
For me, this tells the story of true thanksgiving, and what it looks like to give out of love and gratitude for someone and not focus on what we get – or don’t get – in return. We give thanks before receiving anything. We give thanks for the opportunity to give.
I tell myself to remember this.
When I write something and it gets few comments, I will be thankful for the opportunity to give.
When I post something on twitter or facebook and hear crickets in return, I will be thankful for the opportunity to give.
When I mail that gift and don’t hear anything back from the recipient, I will be thankful for the opportunity to give.
When I make the new pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving dinner and it bombs, I will be thankful for the opportunity to give.
I’m not gonna lie: This is sometimes easier said than done. I want to turn it all around backwards and insist you do something for me before I am thankful. But I remember this is not God’s way. He tosses up the sun everyday and the stars every night while giving a thousand miracles in between. He does it all whether we give thanks or not.
But when we are thankful – and when we give out of that thankfulness – the windows of our hearts fling open to allow His gifts inside.
“It’s true that giving thanks is actually the best way to receive the gifts. It seems like it should be the opposite, like receiving the gift comes first, and then we’ll feel thankful. But when it comes to invisible things like hope in the midst of heartache or faith in the midst of fear, being thankful can be the very window by which these gifts are able to come in.” ~Emily Freeman
I pray y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, friends. This week and always, may heaven’s favorite blessings be yours.
I’ll be taking the week off to hang with my posse and prepare our own Thanksgiving meal. We are hosting a couple “orphan” families like us who don’t have much extended family in town. What will you be doing this year for Thanksgiving?