Hidden in between two seemingly selfish holidays (give me candy, give me presents) lies a simple unobtrusive day. A simple day where families come together and appreciate the provision and blessings they have received. A day of Thanks. A day where the celebration of each other is vocally and/or quietly expressed.
Like most real American holidays, it started with a paradox. The Pilgrims were starving, they were in a hostile land, and many of them had already died. They brought about an impromptu day of thanks when they were in the worst of situations. Today it is the reverse. We as a culture are in a season of blessings – we have abundant food that does not come from the sweat of our brow, we have ways to cure most sicknesses, we have shelter from the elements, we have a plethora of books and newspapers to keep us informed – and yet we are not thankful. It seems that the more we have, the less thankful we are.
I am reminded that the person who gives the most is the most thankful. Like the widows mite example in Mark 13; the person who sacrifices most is the on who serves the most. Yet in more recent times the importance of an event is given (or taken by) merchandising. Halloween is by nature hollow. People dress up to get pre-packaged candy, or people dress up to go to parties – the point here is that people have themselves predominantly in mind. They have their own goal, their own ‘ends’ in mind. Christmas has been changed as well. Instead of a time where one can reflect on the greatest gift even given to mankind, or how the real St. Nicholas gave from his heart to help those in need; now we have a mockery of giving where we want instead of we want to give. Of course, there is good and virtuous things in both of these holidays (Christmas more so) but in the minds of the ordinary consumer, who is advertised to non-stop, that is what they hear: what can I get.
Thanksgiving is of a different sort, from a different time. There are no carols about turkey, no dressing up to receive cranberry sauce; there is just the coming together of family. While this bastion of family and sacrifice stands tall it is being mulched into ‘the holiday season’. So be thankful longer, don’t celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving (of course gifts can be bought year round). Make thanksgiving into a longer event, it should not be just one day – make every day a day of vocal thanks with Thanksgiving being the culmination of gratitude, but not the end of it.
Remember that the greatest gift is true thanks.
Another great post on thankfulness from a far greater servant than I is here.