I mentioned earlier in the week that this trip to New York had been in discussion for a few years. Only over the course of the last several months did we begin actually making reservations and plans. Then, in the last couple of weeks my in-laws generously began making it clear that this trip was largely a gift from them.
As a very independent woman, I resisted at first. It was certainly not out of a lack of gratitude, as much out of a sense of respect (and my fleshly battle with pride and control). While I thought their offer was incredibly generous, it didn't feel necessary. I appreciated it but was a little uncomfortable.
Throughout the trip, each time they insisted on paying for a meal I felt somewhat embarrassed. My mind raced with ways to even the score. How could we pay them back? What type of gift could we give them to possibly 'catch up.'
Somewhere along the way (honestly, far later in the trip that it should have been) I realized, they didn't want us to try to get even. They simply wanted to give--to love us extravagantly. They wanted the gift of time together, making memories and building/strengthening relationships. They wanted us to share an adventure (even one that was hard on them physically). They wanted to enjoy the laughter and smiles of my children as they made new discoveries.This morning over breakfast I told my mother-in-law what a fairy tale trip it had been--and how sincerely we enjoyed and appreciated it. Her eyes welled up with tears as she said, "that's just what I wanted!"
And I had a revelation: While it may have seemed we had scrapped traditional Thanksgiving in lieu of other pursuits, I think I have actually learned to understand thanksgiving a bit more. Our Father in Heaven gives good gifts to His children. He wants us to share the adventure of life with Him. From His Hands come our every meal, breath and experience.
We can drive ourselves crazy trying to even the score...but it is simply impossible. He has given more than we can ever repay.
The greatest gift we can give in return is gratitude. As we stop the power struggle, the pride, the feeble attempts at repayment and choose instead to engage in relationship with Him...He is satisfied.
All we need to bring is an offering of thanks.