Why I Love Thanksgiving (in some ways more than Christmas)

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Thanksgiving is probably one of the least acknowledged holidays in America. If it weren’t for massive amounts of food and football I’m not sure anyone would remember. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the few holidays that is harder to commercialize. It’s a holiday about giving thanks, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to buying things.

Regardless of what you believe about Thanksgiving as it was celebrated and recorded at Plymouth Plantation, the idea of a day set aside to give thanks has been around for thousands of years. So why are we so terrible at it?

I love Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, it was marked by a long trip to Boston to visit my mother’s family. Much stress usually surrounded this trip, which I better understand now that I’m a mom. But I still looked forward to it. (Something else I try to keep in mind, even though I’m now a mom). But it feels like we don’t give Thanksgiving a fair chance. We might post a cute quote to Facebook or a picture of a food laden table to Instagram, but mostly our feeds and lives are filled with the preparation for Christmas. Now we’re even shopping on Thanksgiving Day!

What happened to giving thanks? Wasn’t that the point? We gather with our families to celebrate the joy of being together and how wonderful it is that we have each other. We prepare and enjoy special foods to represent the many good and sweet things that are in our lives. Most importantly, we give prayers of thanks and gratitude to the source of all good things, our Father God. No gifts are exchanged, just the enjoyment of the presence of family and friends.

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Really this should prepare us for a whole season of gratitude leading up to Christmas. After all, God sending his son, Jesus, should instill in us an immense amount of gratitude. I think it’s a shame that the materialized Christmas gets a month or more, and Thanksgiving gets a single day, really closer to 10 or 12 hours before the Black Friday sales start.

So if you can, don’t let Thanksgiving end after the dishes are washed and leftovers put away. Spend Advent this year focusing on gratitude.  Rather than handing our kids the latest toy catalogue to peruse and circle favorites, encourage them to make lists of things for which they are thankful.

I know the word blessing is getting a bad reputation in some Christian circles but I can’t coming back to the children’s song “Count Your Blessings”

Count Your Blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.

For children, the physical things we have are easier to see. Encourage them to go further. Then instead of papering the house with their Christmas lists, engage them in making lists of things they could do for others as we approach Christmas. How can we show our gratitude for all that good things God has given us, whether material or spiritual, by serving others?

I’ll leave you with these words from Madame Blueberry as we speed into the biggest buying holiday of the year.

Because a thankful heart
Is a happy heart
We’re glad for what we have
That’s an easy way to start
For the love that He shares
As He listens to our prayers
That’s why we say thanks everyday
That’s why we say thanks everyday

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