Setting the table
From the Official Blog of Thomas Mitchinson, Illinois Committee on Publication
*Photo by Ralph Lauren
My mom took such joy in Thanksgiving. She especially enjoyed setting the table – placing out the china, flatware, goblets and cloth napkins that were used only on special occasions. My brother worked at a florist and there was always a beautiful centerpiece on the table. And my mom loved placing chocolate turkeys for the kids at their place settings.
I remembered those scenes from long ago when Candy Crowley of CNN recently used the phrase “set the table”. She meant the decisions made by political campaigns as they get ready for election day. That is a good phrase for all of us. How do you prepare for your special occasions, for your workday, or for just every day? How do you “set the table”?
Gratitude is a great way to “set the table”. Author Robert Emmons would concur. His book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shares his research at the University of California on the health benefits of gratitude.
About this book, health writer Bruce Campbell wrote about one of Emmons studies, “One group wrote five things they were grateful for. Another group described five daily hassles and a control group listed five things that had affected them in some way. Those in the gratitude group felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems than the other participants.”
Campbell gave five suggestions for getting started in increasing the level of gratitude we experience. They include:
- Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
- Use Visual Reminders – such as Post-it notes to remind you to be grateful
- Have a Gratitude Partner
- Make a Public Commitment – express gratitude in public situations
- Change Your Self-talk – let your inner dialogue, what you say to yourself be more grateful
Gratitude is important. The Bible counsels, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5: 18). Thankfulness opens our lives to God’s grace – His love, care and provision. Isn’t that why the earliest of Americans sat down hundreds of years ago in a feast that we celebrate today?
So before we sit down to our meals today, let us be grateful for all the good we have. Let’s make our gratitude list – and even share it with others. We can share it as we gather in our homes and churches. We can proclaim it publicly and help others understand the importance of giving thanks. This is also a good lesson for every day as the holidays approach and we head on into a new year.
Let’s “set the table” each day – prepare our lives for a more prosperous and healthier living by expressing our thanks in writing and sharing.