The Thanksgiving Game

Have you ever noticed that people only say “It’s just a game” when they’re not winning? As for me, I love winning! Even when I’m playing tic-tac-toe with little kids, I play to win! And I’m not much for the kind of games where nobody/everybody wins because they all tried. (I might have a slight competitive streak.)

But last November, I played a game with my sister and my nephews in which I really believe we all won. It was not so much a competition against each other, as a competition against our own human bent toward ungratefulness.

I call it “the Thanksgiving Game.” Here’s how it works: Each day, beginning November 1st, players make a list of what they are thankful for beginning with the letter of the alphabet that corresponds with the day. (On November 1, words begin with A; on November 2, words begin with B; and so on.)

For instance, today, I am thankful for Acceptance in Christ, the Ability to serve God, Apples, Aviation technology, Answers, and Available friends. (If I were really trying to make a long list, I could add Anteaters, and Aardvarks…but I think that may defeat the purpose of the exercise.)

The game is not my invention; I learned about it last year from a few others who were already playing it. But it was my idea to email lists back and forth with my sister and nephews. Sharing the lists with others added fun accountability…not to mention that the others always came up with way more creative words than I did!

This year, I drafted four “rules”:

  1. No dictionary use.
  2. No referring to last year’s lists.
  3. Must be things that we actually pause for a moment to be thankful for. (That might rule out the anteaters and aardvarks.)
  4. Goal is to get at least five items on the list each day, and anything above that is a bonus. (This one was to protect me from the appearance of failure by always having the shortest list. I want to remain a winner!)

Everyone who plays this game, especially according to rule #3, wins. Even if you don’t have the longest list, even if you don’t have the most creative words…you win if you express thanks to God. We are all ungrateful by nature, and anything that redirects our attention to the gracious goodness and faithfulness of God makes us winners!

I believe that the Lord loves to hear our thanks (Psalm 22:3). I believe that giving thanks is one of the best sacrifices we can give Him (Hebrews 13:15). But I also know by experience that thanksgiving is good for us!

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most high.—Psalm 92:1

What are your thankful for? Add your top three for today’s letter in the comments below!