Don’t let Thanksgiving get lost in holiday rush

By the time you read this reflection, what remains of Thanksgiving 2022 will be easily swept aside to make room for the festivities of Christmas. That is, if we are lucky.

The older I get, the more Thanksgiving seems to be nudged out between Halloween and Christmas. I was somewhat shocked (but maybe I shouldn’t have been) to see Christmas decor on display at Lowe’s prior to Nov. 1.

I remember thinking — in that moment when I rounded the corner of Aisle 24 and saw a neon skeleton next to a 7’ Christmas tree — “But what about Thanksgiving!?” I suppose Lowe’s could handle this dilemma by having a pilgrim statue and a skeleton sitting under a Christmas tree for a conversation by the firepit.

Maybe I wouldn’t be as concerned about the disappearance of Thanksgiving if it weren’t for the fact that I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1964. Who knows? One thing I do know is that as people of faith, we have much to be thankful for.

A time to pause, reflect

Thankfulness. A simple definition is “consciousness of a benefit received.” For many, consciousness leads to a feeling of happiness for the blessings received. Who doesn’t want that? Yet sometimes it’s hard to build the bridge between the stressors of everyday life to see what’s right in front of us.

One of our biggest challenges is taking time to recognize the blessings in our everyday lives. That’s why I have such an appreciation for the Thanksgiving holiday. Not because of my birthday, the turkey, dressing or pumpkin pie. Rather, I am grateful that we designate a time of year not only to recognize the harvest feast of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, but also to acknowledge the blessings we have received.

So, before you journey too far into the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, I hope you will stop, make a list of the many gifts you receive daily, and take time to intentionally thank God.

‘Cease from distressing’

My list often goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. Family, home, ministry, the everyday challenges of getting older (at least I’m still alive) and the occasional need to navigate difficult people (because I always learn something about myself in that exercise).

No matter what your list includes, let us be mindful of the words found in that great hymn by Adrianus Valerius, “We Gather Together:”

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
May God bless you well today and everyday…and may you be thankful!

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