When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was “Turkey Day”. For me, the whole purpose of the day was eating turkey and mashed potatoes. I knew (or thought I knew) the story of the first pilgrims and the feast they had at the end of the harvest, inviting their “Indian” friends over for a big party. At school every year we made construction paper hats and headdresses to play our parts for the day.
Today it seems Thanksgiving is more significant to some people for what comes after—Black Friday. Now Black Friday is encroaching on Thanksgiving itself. I hear people complain about the expanded offerings for “sales” saying how awful they think it is that those who work in the stores won’t be able to spend time with their families. There are even petitions about it. As long as people are standing outside waiting for stores to open so they can get that moment’s big deal, the stores will keep edging their sales earlier and earlier. The most effective protest is to stay home.
On the other hand, I see more and more people stopping to be thankful, often for the little things that we take for granted. A Facebook trend this month is people posting about things they’re thankful for over 30 days; naming something each day. It’s pretty tough to do. In the press of life and busy schedules, it can be difficult to remember to take a moment to be thankful for something. Of course, there are some days thinking of something to be thankful for can be pretty difficult. Typically, it starts out with people being thankful for a warm, dry place to live, food to eat and other material things. As they move through the month, if they are dedicated to the effort, they take time to be thankful for things that aren’t things at all. They are thankful for people; friends and family, and good things they see in the world around them.
As an adult, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. While I enjoy Christmas, and believe in the Christ story behind the holiday, I get frustrated with the feeling that you “have to” do things—gifts, parties, activities that aren’t related to the meaning of Christmas at all. To me that isn’t a holiday. And that’s what makes Thanksgiving so great. So far, no one has been able to find a way to commercialize Thanksgiving, other than the aforementioned expansion of Christmas shopping.
Thanksgiving is still about family and friends. It is about the intangible things in our lives. It is about slowing down to remember the people who aren’t with us anymore and being grateful for what we have: a warm home, a bed, food to eat. For many people, it’s also a great time to remember the people around us who don’t have those things and then attempting to help; people helping people.
I am thankful to be with my family this Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the comforts I have and I am thankful for the opportunities I have as a writer and a storyteller to use my God-given talents to entertain.
Take a few moments to be thankful for what you have.
And then pass me the turkey…