Monday, November 01, 2010

In defense of Thanksgiving...

Yesterday as I walked through the mall with my husband, I was surrounded by Christmas decorations and merchandise and I could hardly stand it. It was October 31st for goodness sakes! What happened to Thanksgiving??!!

Is it just me, or is Thanksgiving a forgotten holiday? It's a quiet holiday without much fanfare and that's just exactly why I love it so much. It doesn't have the excitement of opening presents like Christmas morning, and it doesn't have the sugar rush and darkness of just seems to be lost in the shuffle. But still it remains my favorite. So why is it ignored? Is it because you can't buy thankfulness in a mall that it is deemed unworthy of celebration?

I suppose as it is often celebrated today - as another day to stuff yourself on food and watch football, it isn't worth celebrating. But, what if, as its name suggests, we took the time to survey the faces around our Thanksgiving feast and really experience gratitude and thankfulness? What if we even dared to take that thankfulness away from the table and walk it out in real life? I'll just bet it would change a lot of lives. In the midst of a trial in my own life, I learned what it means to be thankful.

As a Christian, Thanksgiving should be a way of life. Sadly, I find it is all too easy for me to focus on the negative than to retain an "attitude of gratitude." In Psalm 116: 17 we are exhorted to offer the "sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord."

Right after my miscarriage, I was able to fully understand what a sacrifice of thanksgiving was. I was hesitant to go to church. I just couldn't face that many people. I was too raw. But the gentle encouragement of my husband and a dear friend got me to church that morning. And when we rose to sing, as the tears streamed down my face, I found I was able to worship God in a new way. I was able to see his goodness and his perfect love for me in the midst of my pain. We sang "blessed be your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name..." and this time, I understood. I even managed to smile through the tears. It changed me to know with my heart and not just my head that God is good all the time. A few weeks later, sitting around a feast at Thanksgiving, I was truly thankful...for everything.

So, forgive me if I get a little protective of Thanksgiving. It was the simple act of giving thanks when nothing in my life made sense that made God's love clear to me, and the Thanksgiving Holiday will always be special for that reason.