Finally, Thanksgiving has come, and in a flash is disappears into the past. Most spend their time cooking, eating, shopping, watching football, parades, and other shows of interest. Family and friends make their way into our homes, consume turkey, chicken, or other similar dishes. We catch up on things in our lives, laugh, and perhaps play games while gazing at the television. Meanwhile, as we watch football or other programs, big Christmas sales advertisements flash between plays, timeouts, quarters, and halftime.
Black Friday begins Thanksgiving afternoon and for many even earlier. Christmas pushes it way backwards and swallows Thanksgiving and even the day before and perhaps the week before. The mails clog our mail boxes with ads as thick as a Sunday newspaper. They beckon us to open wide our wallets and push our way through malls and their stores competing for the same toy, tool, or electronics item. The frenzy gushes forth like an angry solar flare ready to consume whatever stands in its way.
Several headlines stand out from the media about Black Friday:
Shoppers Brawl Over Barbie Doll
Woman Punches Cop
Ruthless Shopper Pepper Sprays Rivals
Riot Over $2 Waffle Maker
Shootings Overshadow U.S. Shopping Bonanza
During this time, is there any thought about gratitude? Two words make up the word thanksgiving. Together those two words spell gratitude. To put it another way, it is giving thanks. Saying thanks is a way of expressing our gratitude for something someone did for us or for kindness received, a gift, or selfless offer. Giving is an act of sacrifice. We give up something for the benefit of another. Both words focus attention off the giver to the receiver and at the same time with an attitude of gratitude that benefiting of another is never intended as reciprocal. That is, thanksgiving is selfless sharing or generosity with a sense of cheerfulness.
The next holiday after Thanksgiving is Christmas for Christians. Yet Christmas seems to elbow and shove its way into Thanksgiving with a rush to big box stores and the Internet to buy numerous gifts as stress and revolving debts rise. The meaning of both holidays seem to be elusive.
Thanksgiving and Christmas dovetail into God if we read and understand His word to us accurately. Part of the Christmas story is the subplot of Mary and her visit with her cousin Elizabeth. After she learned of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she burst out in a song,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).
What gratitude! Thanksgiving came to Mary’s heart as she expressed her thanks to God for His great mercy toward her. Afterwards, Mary gave birth to a son who would sacrifice Himself to reconcile humanity back to God from its state of rebellion against Him. In a way of speaking Christmas is a plot of Thanksgiving. It draws us to give thanks for all God has done for us in making us his family through faith in Him. That faith is trusting in His goodness and love for us and imparting to us a new way of seeing ourselves, others, and Him through a new birth. Faith raises gratitude and imparts hope. It turns alienation with others and God to reconciliation, gratitude, and love. Why rush to get past gratitude to weeks of frenzied shopping, Santa Claus, jingle bells, list making, and stress? Open the door of thanksgiving to meet Mary’s child, the Son of God, Jesus, who came to give us a new life.