Tag Archives: Thanksgiving Day

the forgotten holiday

1eb9f16f59fb8020c27690c20e1675cbCrammed somewhere between the costume and candy of Halloween and the lights and mad rush of Christmas is a Thursday holiday that is slowly become obsolete: Thanksgiving. It’s slowing becoming the last thing on the minds of millions of Americans and if you look hard enough, you might find a small section of Thanksgiving cards, autumn decorations, and maybe a turkey platter amid the aisles of Halloween costumes, miles of candy, Christmas decoration and toys.

For some, especially in America, it’s a day to prioritize their shopping list for their marathon shopping spree on Black Friday. Others, it’s the start of the darkest season of the year due to past financial strain, the loss of a job or a loved one, and/or many other stresses that can affect one’s life.  Few rarely stop long enough to be grateful.

Somewhere along the way, our perception of Thanksgiving Day has been skewed. We’ve forgotten the reason for celebration that first Thanksgiving and what the holiday should be about.

Historically, we think of Thanksgiving as the time of feasting for the Pilgrims and Indians. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims had been in America less than a year. During those months, over half of their original population had died from disease or starvation. The Pilgrims hosted the first feast not to try out their latest recipes, but to celebrate life with their Indian friends and give thanks to God for His provision in difficult circumstances.

Thanksgiving is about coming together as one to give thanks for a vast array of things – from life to health, from provision to family – no matter where you’re at or where you’ve been in life.

Perhaps you’d like to redirect your loved ones toward gratitude this year.

That was my intended purpose of writing 30 days of gratitude. It’s been fun and my focus has shifted quite a bit this year. How can I further that shift or change my focus? How can you?

Read through the different scriptures about giving thanks or gratitude (some listed below to get you started). Think about the reasons for ingratitude and make a 180 degree turn. Focus on your blessings instead of what you don’t have and you may find that you are far richer than you originally thought. Think of a loved one you rarely see and reach out to them by making a phone call or sending them a card, maybe even make a visit in person to show your appreciation. And, as always, focus on praising God.

My family goes around the table and says one thing they’re thankful for. I’m even contemplating adding a new tradition called the “Encouragement Jar” to this year’s festivities. Ask me about it sometime.

What are you family traditions? What can you do to refocus your view of the holiday?

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118.24

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3.17

Give thanks in all circumstances… 1 Thessalonians 5.18

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 136.1

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1.3

28. extended family

The holidays

Every year, people gather together with extended family members. Some enjoy a meal together. Some watch the football game, enjoy a few beers and riotous yelling in front of the big screen in Uncle Sam’s den. Women typically flock to the kitchen – some gossip, others stand by in silence.  And others catch up with a few while avoiding those who don’t meet their personal standards or those they seem to have had a falling out with.

The joy…

  • of family and community
  • of being so closely knit together that you know what may or may not be going on in the lives of those you see once or twice a year
  • of being scrunched under one roof with forty of your closest relatives for the next three to four hours
  • of possible drama

The list goes on.

And I can hear a collective “ugh” coming from some of you.

Relax

Smile

And be thankful for what you have been given

I’ve discovered that there is so much more to these holiday gatherings than what meets the eye. Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m called to be more than what the world sees. I’m called to love in spite of differences. I’m called to forgive in spite of how I am treated. I’m called to so much more that the world doesn’t understand.

So what if a cousin raised her voice at last year’s turkey dinner?

So what if Uncle John left early without saying goodbye?

I’ve been learning that I cannot control the actions of others. I can only control myself – how I react and respond. I have a choice. I can choose to allow Jesus’ love and mercy to be extended to those around me (and not just family) rather than put up walls and be stand-off-ish. I can choose to love my family in spite of myself and maintain that love after spending four days in the same house with them. On another note, I don’t know what each of them are really going through. All I can do is pray for them and see them as valuable. They are, after all.

A challenge for you: Instead of avoiding the people you call family, take some time to really catch up with them this year. Pray for them and their needs; offer to. Love on them and if you don’t have the strength to do that, ask God to do it through you. That is what they need most.

I’m thankful for all of our differences.

I’m thankful for the power of forgiveness and what happens when love is extended.

I’m thankful for the healing that the grace of God can bring to a relationship.

And I’m thankful for you, my extended family. May God continue to bless you and keep you, not just today, but all year through.