Why Thanksgiving is Radically Subversive
{and Everything You Need to Have the Best Thanksgiving Yet}

Mama can kick leaves in the woods like she’s tearing back the crumpled paper wrapped over the surface of things.

She walks with a stick.

She dragged it out from under some maple saplings. And then she pins that trail under her right down.

Like there’s no loud and flippant way she’s letting anything make her miss the now right under her, no way that that now could just up and slip out from under her.

You could be a sophisticated cynic and miss your whole life that way.

You walk a bold, amazed way when you know the destination is right here.




What had Mary Oliver defiantly scratched down with an inked stick of her own?

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.”

Everyone’s wild to stop feeling overwhelmed – but nobody ever wants everything to stop and be over.

Mama walks like that through the woods. Like she knows it’s going to be over someday… all over. That your face will come tight right up to it and there’s no stick you can fine anywhere to fight time off.

And then there’ll be that stark moment when you turn and see what you were married to. You can live your life as the bride married to Hurry, having affairs with Not Enough, Always Stress, and Easy Cynicism. Yeah, I guess we all get to choose our own bedfellows.

Mama always said it and she didn’t care what anyone thought of it: God was her husband. And that ain’t just some metaphor to get the Pharisees all in a prudish knot – it’s brazen Scripture. Take it or go ahead and leave it. We all get to choose our own bedfellows — and who we’ll give our soul to, who or what will get our life.

Mama’s standing there, already decided.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement, vowed to Awe Himself, covenanted to Christand I took the whole of everything He gave in this gloried world into my open arms with thanks.

Because really? Yeah, I guess so — Anybody can be a cynic. Cynicism is laziness in every way.

The real heroes are the ones who never stop looking for the possibility of joy.

“Here is good. I think we should do it right here.” Mama taps the ground of the trail with her stick, holding here down. Here always has some good if you look at it long enough.

“Good light.” Mama looks up.

So that’s where Levi and I drag the tables to. Haul in stumps to stand in as legs for plank benches. Throw old quilts down as tablcloths and lay out the plates.

“Are we crazy?” I tug at the end of one of the quilts. Mama raises her one eyebrow — “I mean, not in a general, yes, obviously-we-are-crazy sense — but in a specifically in a trying- to- have- a- Thanksgiving-dinner in- the- woods- sense?”

Mama grins. Winks. Knowingly.

Yeah – she doesn’t have to say it.

Wherever you are – Thanksgiving is always for those crazy enough to see grace for the trees.

Thanksgiving is always for the courageous and Grace is always for the risky.

We lay out the table and string up the banners and make up our Thanksgiving Tree  —-

And it’s all ridiculous enough to be meant to be































It’s like the unlikely feast in the middle of the trees is the unexpected that is right.

There’s Mama and the kids and the Farmer and cousins and aunts and uncles and a Thanksgiving in the woods, in the coming dark and the cooling light, and this feels subversive and it feels right.

Because the shock of it is:

Grace is never passive. Grace is a hijacker. Grace hijacks the dark, hijacks the looming forests, hijacks the sins.

Grace hijacks the impossible, the unlikely, the angry, the cynics, the doomed.

Your calling is radically this: Gloriously hijack every darkness with grace.

To love mercy and do justice and follow Christ means to be The Revolutionary Guerillas of Grace — radically turning the fallen world Upside Down.

And if grace is a hijacker of the dark — then it makes sense to give thanks in the most unlikely places. 

Mama serves up pumpkin pie under a beech tree. Men eat the last of the turkey under the ancient limbs of oaks.

I look at them all and I love them for this.












 All this  — all this glory, all these gifts, that I take the dare to write down in the month of November: 1000 gifts in one month. A little over 33 gifts a day.

Sure, why not get really subversive with this giving thanks and go hard after the dark this month— I audio record gifts on my phone throughout the day, wherever I am. And I feel like I am waking up all over again.

Then come the end of the day, I grab a pen, listen back to them, feel again all the ways He loves,  count all the ways He loves, scratching them down in the One Thousand Gifts Journal at the end of every day.

This is maybe the best thing I’ve done all year,” I tell the Farmer when the experiment is only 9 days old.

“You really think you can count 1000 gifts in a month?” He grin-winks at me. “Because I’m seeing the change again in you already.”

That’s what’s happening here:  Daily Doxology is how to Detox your Soul.   It’s always dark or doxology — (and yeah, amazing grace — we get to decide.)

That’s what I’ve been calling it: #NovemberNiagaraOfThanks #1000GiftsIn30 #SoulDetoxWithDoxology

It feels subversive and radical and — like hijacking the dark.

Yeah, maybe that’s it — a Personal Revolution of Gratitude turns everything around. There are always the quiet revolutionaries who give thanks for grace in the unexpected.

There are always the real revolutionaries who know this overthrows all the pressing dark.

There are, even now, the revolutionaries who know salvation is no cheap gift; they know what they were saved for. They choose to give glory with the breaths given. They choose to be married to amazement because only amazing grace divorces souls from the dark.

The kids are lit in the last light, like their hair has been caught on glory.

The way they laugh and it rises and nothing can hold it down. Mama walking through the leaves sounds like the rustling open, the unwrapping of gifts.

I can’t take my eyes off those three kids with their backs pressed up against the bark of a Tree.

The way grace hijacks all these shadows even now.




Start your Own Personal Revolution of Gratitude:

1. Count One Thousand Gifts in a month

Hello lovely November! You’ve got 30 Days. And we’ve got a pen! Count 33 plus gifts a day = #1000Gifts.

So, yep, opening up this 60 day devotional with its 1000 numbered lines —  the One Thousand Gifts devotional journal — and deciding to do a little soul detoxing here with doxology— because it’s always dark or doxology (and yeah, amazing grace — we get to decide.)  Just after a week in? This is the best gift I have given myself — my heart, my attitude, my perspective — all year! 

#Go! #NovemberNiagaraOfThanks #1000GiftsIn30 #SoulDetoxWithDoxology


2. Make your own: The Thanks Giving Tree {Free Printable}

1. Print out The Thanks Giving Tree (Spanish Edition here)

2. Cut out all of the leaves. Hole punch each leaf. Slip a string through each hole.

3. Hang the leaves on a bouquet of branches in a container of your choice.

4. Each morning, pick one leaf, reflect on its verse and make the verse your prayer of thanksgiving back to God. Then set it at the base of  The Thanks Giving Tree.

5. In the evening, return to the leaf and its verse and give thanks to God.  And then jot down one gift you are grateful to God for on the back of the leaf.

Make giving thanks a daily habit — and daily wear joy! 

6. (While it’s life-changing to cultivate a habit of thanksgiving over several weeks, life circumstances might alternatively have you jotting down thanksgiving for His gifts on all the leaves at one time, or, as a family, filling all the leaves during one family gathering.)

7. Or!  Each morning, leave one of The Thanks Giving Tree leaves hanging somewhere, and on the back of the leaf, jot down why you are grateful for your spouse, your child, your co-worker, your neighbour. Use the Thanks Giving Tree to reach out and ignite your community with a radical revolution of gratitude! Joy! Dare!

{We’d love to see your Thanks Giving tree? Or your #1000Giftsin30 #NovemberNiagaraofThanks? Share your Thanksgiving Tree or #1000Giftsin30 with us on Twitter? (@annvoskamp #1000gifts) Instagram? (@annvoskamp #1000Giftsin30)  or over in our Gratitude to God Facebook community? }

Download your own Thanks Giving Tree here:

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Related: 15 Ways to Raise More Grateful, Happier Kids 
How Writing Down your Thanks is proven to make you 25% Happier!