Scrooge is un-liked because he’s so grumpy. The fictitious character from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is negative, miserly and rude. To be like that just seems wrong during a season of peace on earth and goodwill to all! Instead there’s something inside of most people that instinctively feels we should be positive, generous and kind at Christmas. I know that’s hard if you feel like life has dealt you a tough hand, but ultimately the choice of how we approach Christmas is yours and mine. And that’s true of life in general. We can be optimistic or pessimistic. Encouraging or discouraging. Happy or sad. The choice is ours.

Most people, given the choice, want to positive and optimistic. That’s a state of mind that comes from a contented heart. So how do we get that? It all starts with thanksgiving.

The bible urges us to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Not because we have to but because it’s good to. It’s good for us because it realigns our often skewed perspective. And it’s good for those around us as thanksgiving is infectious!

So how are you doing in your giving thanks?

For me, I’m thankful this Christmas for family, church, friends and faith. I’m thankful for being alive at this very moment in time. I’m thankful for the basic stuff of life – like food, shelter, clothes and a bed. I’m thankful for warm-hearted people who take time to say kind words and give thoughtful gifts. I’m thankful for the privilege of living in York and the North of England. I’m thankful for being a British citizen. I’m thankful for people who’ve given their lives to Christ this year. I’m thankful for those who are serving others across the world without reward or recognition – like aid workers. And for those who often go unnoticed but who’ve make a difference to my life. Many of them I might never see to thank – like road sweepers and toilet attendants – but they help make life better! Those are just some of the things and people for which my heart is thankful.

But most of all I’m thankful for what’s at the core of Christmas, which is God himself. He has not left us alone but has come to us in the babe in the manger, and still draws close by his Spirit. Followers of Jesus know that ultimately a contented heart comes as we turn our thanks to God! The God we know in Jesus Christ. Because He satisfies like no other. He gives purpose, meaning and joy, even if times are uncertain and life is difficult.

In a world of so much bad news people need good news! So get to church this Christmas, hear afresh the good news and give thanks to God for all his goodness. And why not go round the dinner table on Christmas Day and ask what people are thankful for? Watch what a difference it makes.

Christmas. It all starts with thanksgiving.