Being Thankful at Christmas

My wife’s family has a tradition before opening gifts. After the nativity story is read from Luke 2, we go around the circle and say something for which we are thankful.

Though the practice may be more traditional at Thanksgiving time, I like that we do it at Christmas. It is a nice balance to the fact that Christmas is not about the presents that we’re about to open, but a celebration of thankfulness for the best gift that was already given.

As we went around the room this year, my 4-year-old eldest daughter chimed in that she was thankful for Mommy and Daddy. It made me feel pretty great even if she did say it quietly and when someone else was already talking. But when it got to her actual turn, she changed her tune.

The_three_Magi_(Balthasar,_Caspar,_Melchior)“I’m thankful that everyone got me a present!” she shouted with glee.

Though she may have said that simply to be funny, I think it was a real thing for which she was thankful. I just hope she’s also still thankful for her mom and me.

By contrast, our 2-year-old daughter gave this answer to the question of what she is thankful for:


Maybe she was echoing other people who had said something similar. Maybe she was giving the stock “Sunday School” answer. Maybe it was a genuine answer and she’s just more spiritual than me. In any case, it was a good thing for which to be thankful.

I’m not trying to say that one of my kids gave the right answer and one of them didn’t. After all, I think it is great to be thankful for all things, including when we get presents. And I think there’s a real danger in echoing spiritual answers without fully understanding or believing them. It was just funny that the answers given by my kids spanned the spectrum of what we are told is the point of Christmas.

I’ll tell you what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my wife and for the opportunity to raise our kids together. I’m thankful for the insight into my own thoughts and motivations as reflected by the words and actions of my kids.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope that you are thankful too, whatever you got or didn’t get.


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