Many years ago during our traditional Thanksgiving meal together, I distinctly remember the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart to stop, look around and soak in this moment. It was a moment of family gathered around eating together, and I was thankful. Several weeks after that, my dad had a massive stroke and nothing was ever the same.
What does the perfect Thanksgiving look like? As Christ followers, what traditions should be uphold and pass down to our children?
Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is God’s Will for us to be thankful. God’s Word is clear about His hating a prideful person. Pride says that I deserve this or that “you owe me”. God’s Word teaches just the opposite. As a follower of Jesus, all of our rights have been forfeited. We now obey God and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus clearly could have expressed a demanding, selfish attitude. He would have had every right to do that. We, on the other hand, have no grounds to stand on.
So, how does this play into Thanksgiving? This holiday is a perfect chance to express our gratitude to God. The first Thanksgiving meal was one of sharing a meal and giving thanks. Those early settlers understood how grateful they should be. The Indians stepped in and basically saved them. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? What a great time to gather your family for a time of food, fellowship, which we do not do often enough, and giving thanks to God.
What we eat is not as important as the gathering itself. My family loves the traditional turkey and dressing, but that is not important. The set aside time to gather is.
The holiday of Thanksgiving is also a great time to teach our children to give back. As Christ followers , we know that this life is not about us. It is about sharing the love of God. There is not a better time to minister in your community with your family. Set the example for your kids by buying a meal for a family or taking food to a family. You can also invite friends over to eat with you.
The most important lessons of Thanksgiving are to be thankful and find ways to show that gratitude. Many have heard an old song that has the words “they will know we are Christians by our love”. This is very true. Our expressions of gratitude should be pure, not one of expecting anything in return. We should love as Christ loved-unconditionally. This means that we expect no recognition. My family has been blessed beyond what we deserve: we should investigate ways to share what we have with others with that attitude of gratitude.
So, here’s our Thanksgiving pledge. Ready?
- I will not stress over calories and sugar, but I will be reasonable. Don’t feel bad every time you eat a piece of pie. Feel bad if you eat the whole thing. If Jesus returned tomorrow, you might wonder why you didn’t eat that pie yesterday?
- If you have family drama, try this borrowed from a friend: take a wide rubber band, write a bible verse on it that you feel you must remember, place it on your wrist and every time the moment is getting intense, snap that rubber band as a reminder. Don’t get sucked into drama.
- Let the song, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…there’s just something about that name” play in your head constantly. Again, this is if you find stupidity becoming contagious.
- Quit whining. If you have your family and health, well, just quit whining.
- If you are in a failing health condition or a loved one is in that condition, be thankful for Jesus. Pray and pray some more, saying “Thank you Jesus.”
- Look out for others. If people around you are seemingly going crazy, stay out of it and look around. Who can you focus on instead of the madness? People need friends and good relationships: maybe you do also.
- Phone a friend. Kim Houston: enough said. Got her on speed dial.
Holidays should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment. If it has become something else, reconsider your plans. Maybe it is time for a new tradition such as taking a trip to a cabin in the mountains. Some will be mad, some may be glad, but do what works for you and glorifies God.
Here are some of my favorite sayings that I tell students that I teach constantly. FYI: they don’t appreciate the drama, either. Hopefully, you have none.
“Those that are mad will get over it or not.”
“That’s tragic”. My 8th grade teaching team thought about getting t-shirts that said this.
“People are crazy.”
“God is good all the time. Pray and give it to Him.”