I believe the one holiday on our calendar that is the toughest to celebrate adequately is Thanksgiving. Living in a nation where we have so much, it is easy to become mesmerized by our success and not adequately have a thankful heart.
We might be like the little girl that sat on Santa Claus’ knee at the mall. When he inquired about her wish list she said, “I need a new bicycle, some skates, two new dolls, an IPod, and a couple of new dresses.” When she finished her lengthy list, she jumped down from Santa Claus’ knee and started to walk off. Her mother quickly said, “Honey, remember the two magic words for Santa Claus.” The little girl turned around and looked at him and said, “Charge it.”
Living in a culture where we confuse our wants with our needs and continually pile on more stuff, it becomes harder to say “Thank you.” “Charge it” can easily replace “Thank you” in today’s society.
It was a woman, Sarah Hale, who kept insisting that Abraham Lincoln needed to declare a specific day for Thanksgiving. In 1863 he selected the last Thursday of November and wrote “This year, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthy skies…which cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensitive to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” He insisted that “no human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
Someone once suggested that we need to do away with “Thanksgiving Day” and have a “Grumbling Day” instead. The point being made was that we ought to spend one day grumbling, then spend the other 364 days saying thank you. Thanksgiving is not a day, it is a lifestyle. Thanksgiving really becomes thanksliving.
The Apostle Paul felt that we ought to be in a constant attitude of gratitude. A few of his examples that he wrote were to the Ephesians: “I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” To the Colossians: “We always thank God when we pray for you.” To Timothy: “As night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” To Philemon: “I thank God as I remember you in my prayers.” To the Corinthians: “I always give thanks for you.” Paul was a man who endured so much and had so little of the comforts we enjoy today – yet he was always thankful.
Every day we experience so many opportunities when we could say “Thank you” to a kind clerk, a helpful policeman, a patient teacher, a family member who helped us do something important, a fellow employee who had a good suggestion, a driver who just let us in the line of traffic, a child who brightens our day, a waitress who was extremely polite – and the list goes on and on.
“Thank you” – say it often! Thanksgiving becomes thanksliving when we allow God to help shape in us an attitude of gratitude.
Accentuating the obstacles to a real Thanksgiving is the fact that this year, 2013, we have five less shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For that reason we are already seeing Christmas commercials saying that major retailers will be open all day Thanksgiving for Christmas shopping. Black Friday is starting this year on Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday emphasizes “Charge it.”
I pray this year that Lincoln’s vision of thanksgiving can “penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensitive to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” I pray that our magical words will not be “Charge it” but “Thank you”!