We are entering the time when we watch a lot of reruns of favorite holiday programs. So, since I am putting this up a week from Thanksgiving Day, I would like to share a column I posted before concerning being thankful. This post marks five years of weekly posts.
Thanksgiving is coming and it is one of the more enjoyable holidays, since it doesn’t require a lot of money and preparation. It is still one of the purer holidays, although sales that begin on Thanksgiving Day are rapidly eating into the family time. And you hear more and more “Happy Turkey Day” and “Macy’s Day Parade”, leaving out the reason for the holiday to begin with. But it is still good that we have a day set aside (in theory anyway) to simply be thankful, although there are many who don’t know who to be thankful to.
Several years ago, there was a film called “Avalon”. It was about a three European Jewish brothers who came to America and establish their families here. In one scene, the extended family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving. One of the grandchildren asks what Thanksgiving is all about and one of the elders answers. “I don’t know. It is an American holiday and we are all Americans now, so we celebrate it.” Unfortunately, more and more families tend to fall into that category.
My wife didn’t like Mothers Day, because she thought every day should be Mothers Day. She said, “If you can’t be nice to me every other day, I don’t want you to just because it says so on the calendar.” We could say the same thing about Thanksgiving. If you can’t be thankful every day, don’t just do it on one day. So I think we need to move from ThanksGIVING to ThanksLIVING; living every day in an “attitude of gratitude.” (That was the title of a sermon I heard many years ago and have never forgotten.)
One thing that will make this time special is to be part of one of the many Thanksgiving services around the community. There are neighborhood interdenominational services, interracial services, even interfaith services. It is good to get together with friends across lines of separation. God made us all and it is wonderful to be able to acknowledge that. There is really more that unites us with our neighbors than what separates us. As we gather together, we can be thankful for a nation that does not hinder the free expression of our faith. We can be thankful for the peace and tranquility that most of us accept without thinking. We can be thankful for our material blessings, also. No matter how little we may have compared to others in our community, we have more than many in our world.
But most of all, we can be grateful for a relationship to the God of the Universe. When we think about the vastness of space and how small we are in comparison, it is amazing to realize that God loves us. We matter to God. God came after us to seek us when we had lost our way. And that is something to be very thankful for.
So enjoy the day. Enjoy being with family and friends. Enjoy overeating. Enjoy watching the parades and football games. Enjoy everything that goes with the day—even getting out at midnight to hunt down bargains. There is a lot of good to celebrate. But don’t just be thankful one day out of 365. Be thankful every day. Make every day a day of thanksliving.