They’re filling my mailbox. Holiday catalogs bursting with items I suddenly find myself unable to live without. I flip through glossy pages displaying cozy pillows on soft leather couches. I eye my own worn slipcovered couch with aversion. Ironically, the cover of the latest catalog to be stuffed into my mailbox proclaims in classy cursive script: “Give thanks!”
I feel like I could give thanks better if my house looked as nice as those between Pottery Barn’s pages.
I am an artist at my core. I appreciate beauty, the perfectly arranged mantel, and the play between textures and colors. I love to nurture beauty in my everyday life with cut flowers and lit candles.
However, there is an ugly side to my love of beauty, order, and organization.
Materialism and discontentment.
The change of seasons is a time when I’m particularly susceptible to these two foes. I start seeing all that is in-between and half done. The chipped and peeling paint on the deck. The fence falling down in the back yard reveals itself as the flowers die back. The dining room that has had a coat of primer on the walls for the past year grates on me as I think of the coming holidays.
I find myself becoming dissatisfied everywhere I look.
Despite the fact that I’m intellectually aware I’m more wealthy than most of the people in the world, I can easily find myself emotionally discontent with my worn out and sagging-in-the-middle sofa or unfinished floors.
This is when I know I have a choice. To choose gratitude or grumbling.
To be thankful for a warm safe house, clean drinking water pumped into my kitchen faucet, a comfortable bed, nurturing food, and a healthy family. To really see all the blessings that are mine that I too often take for granted.
“If we will pull our minds and our spirits away from our problems from time to time and redirect them to our blessings, we will find much to celebrate,” writes Richard A. Swenson in his book Margin. “And we’ll remember that overseeing it all is a God who knows us well, who loves us anyway, and who is very, very good. All people have within their grasp much to be thankful for. Gratitude fills. Grumbling drains. The choice is ours.”
I want to be filled, not drained. I gather up the catalogs and throw them into the trash.