Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5
We lived in the village of Ellicottville, New York for a number of years, tucked away in a small corner upstate which is famous for snow accumulations. This week, a ginormous blizzard “of long duration” is destined to hit, leaving some 4 feet of fresh snow. We’re used to that beginning around Thanksgiving, being snuggled away with a cozy wood fire blazing, watching out the windows as big flakes poured forth from the sky. It was the best time for that holiday, or at least the best time to be home for it. Sadly, some years, we celebrated by ourselves – the roads were impassable for traveling family. But thankful for their presence whenever they could make the snowy trek.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for the year. It expresses my gratefulness to God for all his many good gifts. Even in the years snow blocked us from the rest of civilization, we gave thanks “in all circumstances”. Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time for me. I love the family-oriented togetherness that culminates at a well-appointed common table. A time of renewal; a time we express love and receive it. But it’s distressing to see the creeping commercialization of Christmas overtake it. Even as the turkey dishes are being cleared, the god of Mammon is seducing us back into the malls, as if Thanksgiving were some annoying interruption to the all-important “ca-ching”. And Americans are more than eager to resume their acquiring, having paused a whole day out of the year to be thankful.
For me, every single day is one for which I feel grateful – and indebted – to a loving God full of grace. For my loving, caring family. For physical well-being. For the protection of a warm house, and food on the table. Its also a day I give back to those not as fortunate in those regards. Like our former housekeeper, Maria. We have committed to “pay forward” many of our blessings onto her struggling family.
For me, commercialization has hollowed-out much of the true joy of Christmas and turned it into a frenzied credit card free-for-all. I look forward to the season of Advent and the Nativity with mixed emotions, seeing so much having been captured by secular culture. There’s not much buying and selling involved in Thanksgiving – a turkey dinner, some seasonal decorations, maybe a vase of flowers. It’s not sexy for marketers. Stores are already fully stocked with Christmas wares. Materialists don’t know how to molest Thanksgiving. They keep pecking away at it, reminding us in football commercials that Black Friday is really the holiday you should pay attention to.
But there is one special day I can raise a toast to the Giver of the feast with my wonderful family to say “I am truly grateful to God for the blessings he’s bestowed”. And for that, I am truly thankful.