Even though we are being rushed from Halloween straight to Christmas every year, we still cannot overlook the fact that next Thursday is Thanksgiving. We have the supermarket ads to remind us, if nothing else. But this holiday is not meant to be about eating and football. Although established by political action and not a strictly religious holiday, Thanksgiving originated with an outpouring of thankfulness to God on the part of the Pilgrim Fathers in recognition of their survival in the new land.
Each year the Holiday Season begins with the pagan/superstition festival of Halloween, pauses briefly on the day of counting one’s blessings, and then diverges into separate paths. For Christians, giving thanks to God for the blessings of the year initiates the Advent season when we prepare our hearts for consideration of the miracle of God’s gift of salvation through His Son, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. For many in our secular society, the family-football-and-food fest of Thanksgiving, followed immediately by the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, is the kick-off to a month of consumerism and sentimentality.
The days following Christmas Day bring us all back together as we face the New Year with resolutions, hopes, and fears for the future. How one celebrates these holidays is a clear demonstration of one’s world view.
If you count your blessings or your lucky stars or feel a sort of general thankfulness that your life is good; if Christmas means nothing more than love of family and friends and sharing gifts and traditions, you may not know the great blessing of being able to face each New year without fear, confident that the loving God who created the universe is in control.
If you thank God for the ups and downs, blessings and struggles of the past year and know that Christmas is both an historical miracle and the promise of eternal salvation, then you have Happy Holidays, indeed.
Have a happy Thanksgiving…a happy time giving thanks to the One who gives us everything. Thank God.
[original version posted November 2010]