Things around us can be more or less difficult, more or less comfortable, more or less festive, but the supply chain of God's grace is never really disrupted.
I don't know about you, but I'm glad that we're all encouraged to sit down together for a day of giving thanks before rushing out the door to shop for Christmas. At least, that's usually how it works. But this year, we were encouraged to get out there even earlier and warned that disruptions in the supply chain would make finding things even more challenging than ever. Ugh! Pounding the pavements and wearing out the Wi-Fi for a whole list of things the people we love don't need -- and maybe don't even want -- is already hard enough. Don't you think?
I say that while remembering a longstanding pattern of Christmas shopping I had many years ago. I'd go out alone early in the morning on Black Friday and not return home until I was finished with the list. The goal was to get it all done in one interminably long day. Sure, it was exhausting. But even if there were a few more things to buy or people to buy for, by Saturday morning the overwhelming majority of Santa's stash was secured in trash bags hidden in a closet or somewhere in the garage of no return.
There were supply chain issues then, too, but usually only for the "hot" toy or gadget of the year. I'm just glad our kids weren't among those who cared much about getting the latest whatever or a Tickle Me Elmo. My mom was right when she told me that it's important to raise children who are willing to be content with substitutes. "When they ask for a cookie," she said, "Give them a cracker sometimes; even if you have cookies." It was good advice -- and not just for kids.
We genuinely do have so very much to be grateful for. Things around us can be more or less difficult, more or less comfortable, more or less festive, but the supply chain of God's grace is never really disrupted. His gifts to us come every day in an unending procession of unmatched generosity and providence. And you know what? Sometimes not getting what we want -- or what we think we want -- is good for us. Sometimes we discover that what we wanted wasn't that important to us after all. And perhaps we begin to understand that what most of us actually hope for is that someone will love us enough to ask, "What do you want for Christmas?"
So, what do you want? What do you need? What is the longing of your heart this year? I can almost guarantee you that it can't be found online or in any store. But I'll bet that none of those deeper desires are waiting offshore in container ships. None of those things is in short supply, not with a God who loved us enough to be born in a stable.
As we enter into another Advent season, one still colored by viruses and vaccines, it would be good for us to find ways to let Thanksgiving linger. Let's stop focusing on what we don't (and maybe can't) have long enough to realize that we probably don't need those things anyway. Let's savor all the blessings we do have long enough to become truly grateful. And when the abundance of God's gifts overflows in our hearts, let's remember to express them in prayers of thanksgiving. Because, honestly, if there is a supply chain shortage, it's one of gratitude for all God has given us, all he is giving us in this moment, and all he longs to give us in the years to come. Happy Thanksgiving.
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.