|"Home to Thanksgiving" by George Durrie|
It's officially the holiday season. Most people view the upcoming months with mixed emotions--eagerness for the good times the holidays bring, dread of the busyness, and if you're a child, focused attention on every mysterious package. I can honestly say I don't have mixed emotions about the holidays this year. I'm very glad to see that this year and all it has brought to us is coming to a close. God has been incredibly sustaining through this marathon year for our family. Thankfulness is all I'm feeling right now. I have to admit, the poignancy of this year's gratefulness has made me reevaluate my traditional views on the holiday season. I think I've officially crossed the line into becoming a bigger fan of Thanksgiving holiday than Christmas, which I know is downright peculiar. My reasoning is this...I love Thanksgiving more because it is all Christmas should be and isn't. For Thanksgiving, we make family and fellowship a priority. You rarely feel the stress or regret of too many parties and obligations at Thanksgiving. People generally leave you alone to celebrate with your family. There's no overemphasis on gifts. I find it so ironic that Christmas now is all about gifts, even more so than when I was young (and that wasn't all that long ago!). Isn't it a wonder that God sent us the perfect, life-changing gift for free? There was no expectation of an appropriate reciprocal gift; it was given with no strings attached. That attitude is not one I often see emulated, particularly during the Christmas season. There is so much to do, so much money you ought to spend, so much glitter and sparkle that it's difficult to see through the tinsel to what we're celebrating. It's such an uphill battle showing your children what Christmas is about...you're contradicted at every turn! It's not the same at Thanksgiving so far, and for that I am very grateful. It's a wonderful thing to celebrate our very American holiday away from the maddening crowds and expectations. It's a wonderful thing to spend the day celebrating the goodness of God to you and yours without a pile of presents to distract, without endless parties to take you away from your children. The quietness and calmness (well, as calm as it ever is with four children) suits me when I want to think and reflect. God is ever present for us...He keeps blessing and shielding us, even when we're so busy or preoccupied that we don't see it. From my humble point of view, it's much easier to see and appreciate Him with the still, small voice of Thanksgiving than with the jubilant shout of Christmas.