It is Thanksgiving weekend. I know that for many it is the launch of a busy and hectic holiday period. I, myself, will be rushing to get the light display at my house finished for our annual day-after- Thanksgiving lighting.
With the expansion of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays into a singular “season,” I believe we have lost something more valuable than all the gifts, food and experiences we seek to provide joy this time of year.
Thanksgiving’s purpose could not be more obvious. Do we take time—other than between bites of the feast and during football game halftime—to pause and consider all we have in the richest nation in the world? We live in a country where much of what we toss out would be considered treasure in poorer countries. We celebrate with so much food in a single day, families in other countries could survive on that for a month. We have multiple houses, cars and any number of items that would cause awe in the eyes of a poor resident of Africa.
It occurs to me that Thanksgiving Day should have some separation from the other holidays. And we should take time to express our thankfulness to each other and to the God who provides for us.
Instead, we rush toward Christmas, jumping online or running to the remaining retailers on Friday before we’ve even digested the last of the turkey. We go hunting for things that will supposedly make those we love happy and make us feel good for giving them. It is a fine gesture.
But perhaps this year it all feels different for me having recently lost my father to COVID-19. This year, I’d give up any things wrapped in bright paper and laden with ribbons and bows for one last chance to tell Dad how much of a positive force he has been in my life and how much I’ll miss him from this point forward.
Spending time with loved ones and taking stock of those who have sacrificed their time, talents, wealth or even unknowingly extended a meaningful gesture when they did not have to—those are the gifts that count.
Suddenly, it will be New Year’s Day. We make resolutions to lose weight, be better people, eat less fast food—whatever we think will make us better people. By February, as the credit card bills show up and the scale tips a few pounds heavier, the hollowness of what the holidays have become drive us into another year of treating the days as though they owe us something.
This Thanksgiving weekend and holiday season, it is my wish that we feel the blessings of loved ones around us, that we recognize the kindness sent our way, and we experience the fullness of heart that comes from helping those who are less fortunate than we are.
May you all have a bountiful Thanksgiving, a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. And may we all pause long enough to realize those blessings.