Thanksgiving is here.

More than likely you’ve already started making plans. As you begin to finalize those plans, let me challenge you to expand your vision of what Thanksgiving could be. Here are three ideas to get you thinking:

Open up the guest list.

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a family-focused holiday. We look forward to time with our families and the memories we’ll make. But for lots of people, that’s not the case. Family lives too far away to travel, work prohibits it, family relationships are weak or nonexistent, or for some other reason, Thanksgiving and family don’t go together.

As you think about the goodness you’re looking forward to in your own family gathering, how great would it be to extend that experience to someone? It will change the dynamic a little, but what better way to display the gospel than to be willing to change your own rhythms for the good of someone else? Who knows…you might even wind up with some new traditions that you actually prefer!

Who else might want some of that turkey?

Consider those who may not have a Thanksgiving meal at all. Maybe you could make an extra meal before the day arrives and take it to someone else. Or what are your plans for all those leftovers? Do you really need to hit the buffet a third or fourth time? (Don’t answer that. Ignorance is bliss.)

Why not find someone who would love to get their hands on those leftovers? Maybe you could even intentionally make more than your crew can eat and make plans for the eventual leftovers before the opportunity to overfill your hungry belly ever arrives! Then give them away together as a family.

Stop to actually give thanks.

Sometimes the day sneaks up on us so fast with all the planning and family that we don’t actually take advantage of the purpose and give thanks. Plan beforehand. Think through how you can stop and thank God for the things he’s done in your heart and life in this last season of life.

More than just a short prayer before you gorge, consider a few ideas:

  • Go around the group and allow each person to share one thing they’re thankful for.
  • Grab a ball, give thanks for something, then throw the ball to someone else and repeat (Good for kids!).
  • Have each person write something they’re thankful for on a piece of paper, then try to guess who wrote what.
  • Take some time to write a letter of thankfulness either to God or someone else.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to highlight the work of God in your lives as the one who is worthy of all thanks and praise. Consider how this Thanksgiving can be focused on God and open to others as a response to the gospel.

(If you need some fuel for gratitude in your life, take a few minutes to read this article we linked to in Best of the Week. It’s a very gratitude-provoking and perspective-giving (not to mention, short) piece.)

Happy Thanksgiving!