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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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More Gratitude

Guess who forgot her blog password over the Thanksgiving holiday? Sorry, I wanted to post and couldn’t from home. I really wanted to share this Jewish prayer of Thanksgiving, provided by Rabbi Devorah Lynn:

We acknowledge withthanks that You are Adonai, our God and the God of our ancestors. You are the Rock of our lives and the Shield of our salvation in every generation. Let us Thank You and praise You for our lives which are inyour hands, for our souls which are in your care and Your miracles that we experience every day and for Your wondrous deeds and favors at every time of day, evening, morning and noon. O Good One, whose mercies never cease, O Compassionate One, whose kindness never fails, we forever put our hope in You. For all these things, O Sovereign, let Your name be forever praised and blessed. O God, our Redeemer and Helper, let all who live affirm You and praise Your Name in truth. Blessed are You, Adonai, Your name is Goodness, and You are worthy of Thanksgiving.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really struggled to get gratitude this Thanksgiving. I mumbled my usual platitudes of being thankful for my husband and kids, for my home and job. And I meant it somewhat, but didn’t really put much thought into it. The day after Thanksgiving, I rummaged through our Christmas ornaments. Our tree is a little unorthodox each year. I decorate it almost exclusively with black and white ornaments, and mainly black and white family photos. Going through them is a little trip down memory lane. I kept running to my husband and showing him, remembering the year a then-preschool-aged son had to give the cheesy grin every time he saw the camera or when our now-middle-schooler who wears his dad’s clothes was so tiny he fit in our arms. And suddenly the gratitude hit me. These people often drive me crazy. But they’re the best parts of my life, too.

 And now the holiday season is here. It’s often a crazy time to be a religion reporter. And a crazy time to be a mom. In both cases, I’m trying really hard to remember the reasons we celebrate these holidays. We have an advent calendar tradition that we started when my sons were young. It’s an advent box, with a mini-cabinet (just big enough for two Hershey’s kisses) for each day leading up to Christmas. Each year, I write out the Scripture verses about the Christmas story onto 25 little pieces of paper. Each day, we read one of the Scriptures and my two sons each get a piece of candy.

For those of you with older children, or who would like to do a spiritual advent yourselves, Passport Inc. has an online interactive advent calendar, with a Scripture, devotion and prayer for each day. It says the project is geared toward teens and young adults. But I’ve been enjoying it so far, myself. You can find it here.