Thanksgiving! As the father of a three year old, yesterday I was watching the PBS show “Daniel Tiger”. Daniel Tiger is a spin off of the old Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, in which Daniel Tiger of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe has his own show. In this episode, Daniel Tiger and his family celebrated “Thank You Day” in which they decorated a big tree with “thank you notes”, and gave thank you notes to one another as gifts.
As much as I am a fan of turkey, dressing, and insane amounts of football on tv – I thought Daniel Tiger had something here. How much of our Thanksgiving Days are actually focused on thanks?
In writing a section on Daily Prayers, Luther wrote the following about giving thanks after a meal:
Also, after eating, they shall, in like manner, reverently and with folded hands say:
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever. [He] gives food to every creature. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. (Ps. 136:1, 25; 147:9–11)
Then shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:
We thank You, Lord God, heavenly Father, for all Your benefits, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
It isn’t a thank you note, per se, but it’s an apt reminder. Growing up, we prayed the first part of the above as a thanksgiving prayer, “O give thanks undo the Lord for His mercy endures forever. Amen,” but that was a little much for a young Jay to say when I was a little kid, so my parents made an addendum which I could pray easily after they said the stuff about mercy enduring: “Thank you, Jesus. Amen.”
As I grew, I learned that nobody knew my bonus prayer at the end, but even more shocking, most people didn’t pray in thanksgiving after a meal. Honestly, I myself have even gotten out of the habit and haven’t been teaching my kids this. Additionally, I remember that I attempted to make “writing thank you notes” a part of our family traditions the day after Christmas (this went over like a lead balloon, partially because since I’m a pastor, our Christmas celebrations all happen after Christmas and usually well into the New Year). It’s easy to not give thanks and it’s hard to make the effort to do it.
But Daniel Tiger reminded me yesterday that saying thank you is important enough to have it’s own day. So maybe I’ll try this again. Maybe not for the 3rd Thursday in November, maybe not for the day after Christmas. But maybe I’ll schedule a day sometime that is devoted to the simple act of saying thank you, even if it is just praying “Thank you, Jesus, Amen,” over and over again.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! And have a happy Thank You Day as well!