It seems now-a-days we move from Halloween straight to Christmas. In one way I get it. Other than grocery stores, no one makes any money on Thanksgiving. With Halloween there are decorations, costumes and candy — lots of candy. And, of course, Christmas is a mercantile monster all by itself. But Thanksgiving? Where’s the profit in that?
Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday for Christ-followers and non-believers alike. For believers: How do you thank God when your spouse has been diagnosed with cancer and this might be your last holiday together? How can you enjoy the festivities when your son has been arrested for drugs–again? How do you engage in everyone’s merry mood when your daughter has been deployed? Unfortunately, life doesn’t take a break during the holidays.
If you don’t believe in God, who can you possibly thank when the doctor’s report comes back cancer-free? When you get that long-awaited raise, do you simply pat yourself on the back or was Someone else involved? How about when that truck nearly runs you off the road, but swerves at the last minute? The idea of thankfulness poses a moral dilemma for non-believers because you can’t simply thank Nature or Yin and Yang.
Oh yes, there’s also the pressure and the prep of Thanksgiving: cooking the turkey (perfectly–like mom made it) and all the side dishes (again, perfectly), planning seating for everyone, making sure Uncle Tom doesn’t sit near Brother George, cleaning the house, making the beds for those guests who simply have to stay over, setting out the decorations beautifully (so it looks like you live like this every day).
And then, there’s the folks around the table. As a nation we’ve grown farther and farther away from the Norman Rockwell ideal Thanksgiving illustration: a smiling father carving the perfectly roasted bird at the head of a bountiful table surrounded (of course) by cheerful children who aren’t arguing. The truth is we don’t live in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Looking around today’s Thanksgiving table we’re as likely to see at least one single-parent household (maybe even Mom carving the turkey), one or more kids with their eyes glued to their cell phones, the TV blaring a parade or football game in the background, someone’s voice climbing as they argue politics at the end of the table, and someone else claiming they can’t eat the turkey (because they’re vegans) or the bread (because they’re gluten-free). No wonder we want to skip over this holiday and land on Christmas–or better yet, New Year’s.
All this pressure can lead to a hastily-said prayer so we can get on with it and get through it.
Before we blast through the holidays to the New Year may I offer an alternative? Tomorrow let’s take a brief moment at some point in the day to say Thank You. In spite of the things life throws our way we have so much to be thankful for.
Let’s pause and remember the Magnificent One Who has given us everything–even life, itself. No matter what your circumstances, God is worthy of praise. No matter what we’re going through He is always good. And I’ve found, when I thank Him for the things He has done, He gives me more grace to handle those hard seasons in life. So, as for me, I’m starting early–“Thank You, God!”
In this wonderful holiday season may His joy and love fill you to overflowing.