While I have always loved Christmas, I’m beginning to believe that Thanksgiving might just trump it in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love Christmas with all that it means to me as a Christ follower. It is the day we collectively celebrate, among fellow believers, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I, too, love all the warm fuzzies of Christmas: the beautiful lights & memorable decorations, Christmas caroling, purchasing just the right gifts for loved ones, the long-planned surprises and carefully guarded secrets, the yummy celebratory food and travels to Grandma’s house….so many years of treasured memories for sure! However, what knocks this special holiday down a peg for me is the over-commercialization of it all. It has become absolutely absurd to me that the Christmas season begins in “retail-world” well before Halloween, leaving Thanksgiving in the dust. Christmas has sadly become all about the almighty dollar….and the “stuff” it buys. Stores opening at ridiculous hours with their clerks working beyond what is reasonable and fair, boasting super-competitive sales to convince even the most tight-fisted of spenders. I won’t even get into the fights that ensue throughout the busy buying season with people battling it out over merchandise, for heavens’ sake! At the risk of being considered the next ‘Grinch,’ I resent what this special day has become.
Enter: Thanksgiving. What I have come to love about this sometimes dubbed, ‘pre-Christmas, obligatory family holiday leading up to the biggest celebratory day of the year,’ is that it is subdued, quiet, simple, reflective, humble, and most importantly, all about giving thanks for what we already have been given. We as believers, are so abundantly blessed (Ephesians 1). We should feel incredibly humbled and grateful for God’s provision on this day and every day. For we are not guaranteed or entitled anything.
As we countdown to this Thanksgiving holiday, while much of our focus turns to food and its preparation, as well as (for some) the enjoyment of watching football, I challenge you to quiet your mind and consider the bounty of blessings God has richly bestowed upon you. Rather than reflecting upon years past with loved ones absent from our table, focus on the people who are present at your table and the love that abounds. Most importantly, don’t just rush through your blessing this year; instead, prepare a mental list of 3 things you can truly give thanks for in your family’s time of saying grace. These don’t have to big or monumental things; they can be simple offerings of thanks such as: health and healing, protection from a near accident, receiving an “A” on a report card, having the money to pay for your groceries, or the provision of a long sought-after job. My point: rather than offering generic/blanket prayers of thanks such as “family,” “friends,” or “food,” consider being specific as a testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Truthfully, if you take just a moment to examine the past year of your life, you are sure to easily recall specific moments of God’s goodness and favor. Nothing is too small or too great; everything we have is due to God’s grace, favor, mercy and provision.
He is worthy of our gift of thanks….and so much more!