Thanksgiving, the Overlooked Holiday – and that is the way we like it

Take a look at this thought by Barbara Rainey – “I’ve heard many people say that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Is that surprising? Though it’s a holiday sandwiched between the increasingly popular Halloween and the overwhelmingly merchandised Christmas, Thanksgiving remains the holiday of ‘coming home.’ It’s a holiday of rest—in stark contrast to the frenzy of obligation and spending that threatens to destroy the essence of Christmas.”

I have to admit, I am one of those people who has always thought that Thanksgiving was the overlooked holiday. When you go to your local Wal-Mart in October it is obvious that we are gearing up for Halloween.  Once Halloween is over, are there any decorations up for Thanksgiving?  No, instead it is Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

Yet, the words of Barbara Rainey have stuck with me.  Thanksgiving is a ‘sandwiched’ holiday. Because it is, there isn’t really time for it to be filled with merchandise and commercialism.  Because it is, the stores can’t really do anything with it.  What does that mean? It means that there are fewer distractions from the meaning of Thanksgiving.  At Christmas, the Messiah can get lost in the tinsel, lights, decorations, and wrapping paper.  With Thanksgiving there is only eating too much and football (and maybe early Christmas shopping!) to distract us.

What does this mean for the family? It means, if we are intentional about it, that we can help our children cultivate an attitude of thankfulness.  It means that we can emphasize contentment and thankfulness before the busyness of Christmas comes upon us.  It means that we can encourage people to visit, slow down, and rest together.

Some ideas that I have heard to encourage these things range from the simple (this year my mom asked us to share one thing we were thankful for as we gathered around the table) or the long term (Barbara Rainey shared that she would write down what they were thankful for each year and use the growing list as table decorations on place cards).  Whatever you do, do it with fun and thankfulness in mind.  To keep the distractions to the minimum outlaw football until after the meal, plan to go shopping at a specific time on Friday, and just enjoy one another.

That is the secret to Thanksgiving.  It isn’t the tinsel of Christmas.  It’s not emphasized by stores.  It is a family led, Wal-Mart ignored, holiday.  I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Here’s to families,

Pastor John

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