Most years, I arrive home from our family Thanksgiving dinner with a full stomach, containers of leftovers, and the desire to take a nice, long nap. But this year, I carried something else:

The lingering stench of smoke.

It clung to my clothes, hair, and jacket. I even had to throw away the plastic shopping bag I’d used to transport table games to the gathering.

My cousin Teddy offered to host the Thanksgiving Day meal this year. We squeezed into his apartment, set up chairs, and pulled two tables together.

(I’m going to take a moment to brag on Teddy’s turkey-cooking skills. I’ve never, and I mean never, tasted such amazing turkey! It was the juiciest, tastiest turkey I’ve ever eaten. If there was a turkey-cooking-award, I would have given it to him!) 🙂

After the meal, we ladies of the family made short work of cleaning the kitchen. When the last dish was dried and put away, we turned our attention to the oven.

Should we use the self-cleaning function and save ourselves a little work?

Why not?

So we wiped the stove top and set the dial to self-clean.

And thus began the “Thanksgiving Day Smoke-Out.”

At first, just a little wisp of smoke came from the vent on top of the stove. Then the wisp grew thicker. Thinking it was just burning off the spilled food, we opened the windows to air the smokey kitchen.

Then the smoke began to billow from the top of the stove. The entire apartment filled with smoke. The guys pulled the oven out from the wall and unplugged it. Still smoke surged from the stove.

We opened every door and window and retreated to the deck. (Thankfully, none of the neighbors called the fire department!) Eventually the oven stopped smoking, and we used fans to air the apartment. All ended well, and we enjoyed a competitive (mostly-friendly) game of Catch Phrase after the smoke cleared.

But every single one of us went home smelling of smoke.

That evening, as I loaded the washing machine with smokey clothing, I pondered this thought:

Just as the smoke from our Thanksgiving celebration clung to us as we left our family gathering, so should the attitude of gratitude linger in our spirits.

Now, I know lingering smoke isn’t pleasant. 🙂 However, just as the smell of smoke is apparent to anyone close by, so is a spirit of thankfulness.

It’s wonderful that we dedicate the month of November to being thankful, but shouldn’t we nurture that attitude all year long?

How would you feel if your children, spouse, or friends thanked you only for one month a year? I wonder if God feels the same way when we quickly turn from the thanksgiving of November to the excitement of December?

So how can we foster a thankful attitude all year long? How can we “wear” a spirit of gratitude?

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but here are three simple ways to remember to thank God every day:

  1. Pray through a Psalm or a portion of a Psalm every day. Psalm 103:1-6 is a wonderful place to start. As you pray, make the words of the psalmist the prayer of your heart.
  2. Keep a thankful list. Each day, write three things for which you are thankful, and praise God for them in prayer. If you do this for an entire year, you will have a list of over 1,000 things. This is also a great way to look back and reflect on the blessings of God.
  3. Pray through each room of your house, thanking God for the necessities and luxuries He’s provided. I never thought to pray through my laundry room and thank God for my washing machine until it broke down one day. After that, I was very thankful for the luxury of washing our family’s clothing! 🙂

I’ll never forget this Thanksgiving and the smoking, self-cleaning oven. I hope our spirit of gratitude will linger much longer than the smoke did.

And perhaps the next time we see smoke rising, we’ll be reminded to be thankful always.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:

To show forth thy lovingkindess in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” {Psalm 92:1-2}

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