People born on February 29 get to celebrate their birthdays once every four years. I was born on November 27, 1945, which wasn’t on Thanksgiving, but when the holiday comes around, it’s doubly special, happening on my birthday, on average, every 6.7 years.
At the ages of three, eight, and fourteen, I got to blow out the candles on my Thanksgiving cake. The next big day came ten years later, in 1969. Why is this important? Because the secret to a long life on Earth is having lots of Thanksgiving birthdays.
Just as blowing out the candles isn’t as important as eating the birthday cake, being thankful for what we have isn’t as important as who we have to thank.
I often hear people say, “I’m thankful to be alive. It’s better than the alternative.” What do they mean by that statement? Being alive on Earth isn’t much to boast about. As the apostle Paul once wrote, “If our hope in Christ is limited to his life, we’re a pitiful group” (1 Corinthians 15:19). The older I get, the more thankful I am to be doing what I do, giving the little I have.
I’ve never been more excited about leaving—to get to Heaven soon—today, if possible. But at the same time, I’ve never been more excited about staying—to share my stories and to promote God’s story in people’s lives.
Jesus said, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, you can be sure your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13 from Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story).
The best gift God could give to me was himself. Jesus has become my very best friend, one who understands and supports me as I recognize his presence and strive to do what is most important to us both. He is my life, no matter whether I walk dirt paths or streets of transparent gold.
I’m thankful for more things than I can count, but God’s gift of himself is what I’m most thankful for.

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