Gratitude for life’s gifts need not wait until Thanksgiving

As I was lying awake in bed this morning, I was thinking about some gifts I’ve received in my life. Some may not have been considered as significant to others, but to me, each was significant and priceless. In some instances, the gift was life-changing, and no amount of money could have purchased it.

Others, though seemingly small, made a big impact.

The definition of the word “gift” according to Webster is something given or received without being earned. Gifts can be tangible or intangible.

My two favorite months of the year are November and December. In November, I enjoy hearing people express their thankfulness. They seem to do this more at this time than they usually do.

In December, people are more open to hearing what the Christmas season is really all about. This is heard through the music of Christmas carols, signage, church services, etc.

Secularism’s influence, however, is of such magnitude in America today during the Christmas season that often times it’s hard to hear the true reason for the season, which is the birth of Jesus Christ and the gospel message. Satan’s goal is to drown out anything and everything that promotes the message of Jesus Christ.

This year, I don’t want the time to go by without mentioning just a few of the many significant December gifts I’ve received in my life and my thankfulness in November for them. Some are tangible, some are intangible.

I am thankful for gift:

No. 10: My first pair of winter boots was when I was 26 years old. Since I grew up the seventh of 10 children and the third of five girls almost everything I owned was a hand-me-down or something I had to share with at least one other sibling. Each year my parents got me one pair of shoes for school and one pair for Sunday.

The first year I was married to Dave, he gave me a tan pair of winter hiking boots as a Christmas gift. The year was 1977. I remember, they had a red, soft, furry lining. In my minds eye, I can still see them. I had never owned a pair of boots before. I remember, too, crying real tears when I opened the box and Dave told me I didn’t have to share them with anyone.

No. 9: My first job out of college. This gift was that of becoming a social worker for the Shelby County Welfare Dept.

No. 8: Saying the opening prayer for my high school graduation. This was the first time I had ever said a prayer out loud. It happened to be in front of a lot of people and I was so nervous. But today, as a chaplain for the Columbus Police Department and as a conference and retreat speaker, I’m thankful for this first experience.

No. 7: My copy of “Jesus Calling.” Reading this each day before I pray during devotions helps me to focus.

No. 6: My professional women’s prayer group. What a precious group of soul friends this is.

No. 5: My daughters, Erin, Ashly and her husband, Aaron, who, therefore, is my son.

No. 4: My 18-month-old grandson, Anderson David Stacy, who lives in Austin, Texas.

No. 3: My deceased husband and best friend, Dave.

No. 2: God’s grace. Need I say more?

No. 1: Jesus Christ. He has been my all time greatest gift. I got to know him better from the first Bible my parents gave me as a Christmas gift after I became a Christ follower as a 16-year-old.

Though I’ve mentioned only a few gifts, you can see I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed by being on the receiving end of the generosity of many people, all of whom have been hand picked and strategically placed in my life by the God I serve, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t deserve any of these gifts, but God loves me so much he has given more to me than I could ever, ever, ever have imagined possible. As I bring this column to a close, today, I have three questions for you.

What are some of the gifts you’ve received throughout your life that have been significant? Have you expressed to the people who gave them to you your thankfulness and appreciation? Lastly, are you willing to make this, more than ever, the year in which you express your thankfulness for the tangible and intangible gifts from others, past and present?

Sadly, I have known people who are givers only, and I’ve known people who are receivers only. But the happiest, healthiest and most blessed people I’ve ever known are those who have been able to both give and receive.

The verse 2 Corinthians 9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas — even if it is a little early for the latter.

Nita Evans of Columbus is owner of Confidential Christian Counseling, focusing her work especially with ministry leaders and their families. She also is a Columbus Police Department chaplain and a national retreat and conference speaker. She can be reached at 812-614-7838 or by visiting