Some of you may have seen the turkey meme going around Facebook that says “Back off, Santa! This is my month.”
Sandwiched between the more profitable Halloween and the mega-fest of consumerism, Christmas, Thanksgiving airtime seems to shrink more every year.
I must admit, I agree with the turkey.
For rushed and harried denizens of the postmodern era, a season of thankfulness is a blessed balm to the soul.
The shopping season is pushed on us earlier and earlier each year, it seems, crowding out the solemn pause that should accompany our Thanksgiving feast.
Sales and dollar figures blot out images of Pilgrims, sacrifice, and suffering. The crumbs from the last bite of pumpkin pie are barely brushed away before we dash out the door for the madness of pre-sales.
But…isn’t all this just normal?
Why not simply take the path of least resistance and allow ourselves to be swept away by the treacherous current that would rush us past the shores of quiet contemplation? Why not just relax and be carried and jostled along with myriads of other hapless shoppers in the quest for more stuff to cram in our over-stuffed homes?
Because Thanksgiving is more than the day before the Black Friday sales.
Thanksgiving is a way of life, a spirit, and the way to enter into the presence of the Giver of all good gifts.
Thanksgiving is what grounds us in reality and guards us against excessive consumerism.
Without it, we are blind and grope in the dark for things which cannot restore our sight. Thanksgiving is what gives us eyes to see the many profound gifts we daily take for granted.
Eyes to see the brilliant sunrise over the horizon, the tousled heads of my sleeping children, and the smiles on the faces of the precious souls I help serve at our church food pantry.
Ears to hear the sound of my husband’s voice praying over our meals, to be filled with strains of music, and the joyful songs of birds.
A sense of smell to savor the aroma of brewing coffee, an apple pie in the oven, bubbling under its flaky crust, and the tang of wood smoke on a crisp, cold night.
A sense of touch to feel the cozy, soft blanket that enfolds like a gentle embrace; to feel the silky lengths of my daughter’s hair, and the safe, honest, work-roughened hand of my husband as he holds mine.
These treasures were given to us – given! Many of us make it all the way through the long days of our lives retaining every one of them.
If we own a Bible, we own an even more valuable treasure – one that many have shed their blood and persevered through desperate danger for us to one day be able to own freely. Many countries today do not offer that freedom.
The freedom to live and worship as we choose, if we have it. Many don’t.
The ability to love, because One considered us worth loving.
These are among the things most precious, and for which we should be most thankful.
Is there someone today who needs to hear the kindly spoken words that you are thankful for their life? That they matter to you?
Is there a blessing that has gone unnoticed for which you can express heartfelt gratitude today?
My challenge to myself and all of us is, every day for the rest of this month, to choose to express gratitude to those around us and to our Maker.
Then, when the dazzling lights of the Christmas season momentarily blind us, we will still be able to see.
We will enter that season solidly grounded by the preparatory work of feeling and expressing our gratitude and seeing the bounty we already embrace. We will firmly hold to the thread of thanksgiving that will sew the seasons together, uniting our thankful hearts with the coming of the Christ child, and we will then truly experience the joy of both.
With faith, hope, and love,
P.S. – for great inspirational quotes on gratitude, check out this post: