Thankful people are

In less than two weeks, Thanksgiving Day will be here. And during that time, I think we all have a lot to do.

For example, our turkeys need to be bought and pies baked. Our good China needs to be unpacked and tables set.

And if we're having family coming in from out-of-town, our houses need to be cleaned and rooms prepared. And I haven't even mentioned finding the strength to face Black Friday and to put out the Christmas decorations.

Let's just say, we have a lot to do in less than 14 days.

But as we navigate this journey, I think it's important to take a step back and remember the reason for this pre-Christmas season.

I mean, as important as all this other stuff is, we're still talking about a day set aside for thanksgiving. And because of that, I've been thinking about some of the characteristics of thankful people.

And in my opinion, there seems to be four attitudes that seem to go hand-in-hand with showing gratitude and appreciation.

For example, first, it appears to me that thankful people are humble. Of course, I recognize that humility isn't a virtue valued in our world. As a matter of fact, it's often associated with weakness.

Still, I just can't get my mind around how a person who's arrogant and self-centered can ever be thankful to anyone or anything that doesn't have his initials.

Instead, to be really thankful, I think a person needs to apply what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: "I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you.

"When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people." Romans 12:15-16, CEV

You see, because they're humble as they consider themselves, I believe they're able to be thankful when they look toward others. That's one.

And second, in my opinion, thankful people are also open. In other words, they've made the intentional decision not to close themselves off from everyone and everything they don't already like and believe.

You see, their vision is broad as are their expectations and experiences. And because of that, we can see reasons to be thankful in places and from people they would never have noticed when they had the blinders on.

As a matter of fact, they might even be able to offer genuine thanks in situations that would send most people spiraling down.

Who knows, they might even agree with the Apostle Paul when he wrote, "By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God.

"Christ has also introduced us to God's undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that's not all.

"We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love." Romans 5:1-5, CEV

Because their perspective is broad so is their capacity for thanks. That's two.

And third, I also believe thankful people are relaxed. Somehow they're able to get beyond all the busyness and stress that seems to fill a lot of our lives.

And without drifting off into some kind of delusional denial of reality, they can take that deep breath and recognize that, not only is a lot of their stress unnecessary, the worry that comes from stress is actually counterproductive.

In other words, they can affirm what Jesus taught when he said, "I tell you not to worry about your life. Don't worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn't life more than food or clothing?

"Look at the birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest. They don't even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth more than birds?" Matthew 6:25-26, CEV

It's because they can relax and get passed all those reasons to be worried that they can appreciate all those reasons to be thankful. And that's three.

And finally, I believe thankful people are compassionate. They're able to see beyond themselves and their wants so that they can see others and their needs.

I guess you can say that thankful people really want to pay it forward, in other words, to pass on the reasons they're grateful to others.

And in that sense, they're claiming the same kind of perspective that God commanded in Leviticus and applying to be many aspects of life: "Don't mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:33-34, CEV

You see, when people are thankful for what they've been given, I believe it's virtually impossible for them not to pass their gratitude on to others. And that's four.

Of course, knowing all this doesn't reduce the stuff that must be done in the next two weeks. Still, as we push our way through Thanksgiving, let's take a little time to remember that thankful people are humble and open, relaxed and compassionate.

And then let's integrate some of those qualities into our own lives. And even though that might not help us change the sheets in the guest room or get the turkey in the oven, it just might improve our lives starting the very next day.

Rev. Ed Rudiger is pastor at Sligo Presbyterian Church.

Christian faith communities begin the church year with the season of Advent, which is four weeks of preparing and leading us to the coming of Jesus, the savior.

Heavenly Father, it is with sincere hearts that we thank You for who You are and all You have given to us, by Your grace.