Let's Not Forget About Thanksgiving Season
By Michael Hidalgo
November 4, 2013
Michael is the lead pastor of Denver Community Church, and is the author of UnLost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For. He blogs regularly at michael-hidalgo.com. He lives with his wife and children in downtown Denver, Colo. Follow him on Twitter @michaelhidalgo.
When I hear Christmas Carols play the day after Halloween I always roll my eyes. From the moment Halloween ends we are thrust into the Christmas season. We go from “Trick or treat” to “Seasons Greetings” in the blink of an eye.
Wasting no time at all, retail giants in our land roll out their Christmas inventory, and with good reason. Americans spend more than $400 Billion every year on Christmas. As the logic goes, the more time we have to spend money, the more money we will spend.
Dining establishments hang Christmas lights and decorations, and Starbucks has already served coffee to millions of customers in disposable, Christmas-themed red coffee cups. Mind you, this is just the start of Christmas season.
Over the next two months Americans will attempt to keep up with the madness of the Christmas season. Parties. Traveling. Shopping. Decorating. When all is said and done, we’ll just be happy to have survived another Christmas season. We’ll be left to look for Jesus under the trash of tinsel, light and empty eggnog cartons.
Over the next two months Americans will attempt to keep up with the madness of the Christmas season.
The only speed bump in the mad dash toward Christmas Day is Thanksgiving—the forgotten holiday. For many, the last Thursday in November is a quick breather in the middle of an insanely busy season. It’s just a pit stop before the annual greed stampede we call “Black Friday,” which now begins on Thursday night. Before turkey, stuffing and gravy settle in our stomach, we are running down the aisles of our national megastores to get a deal on one more thing we really don’t need.
Our passion for Christmas has caused us to ignore Thanksgiving. The real tragedy, however, is that we have lost the meaning behind the holiday. Thanksgiving is now more synonymous with gluttony than gratitude. The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest night of the year for bars across our country.
But we don’t stop there.
We binge on beer on Wednesday, and binge on food on Thursday. We stuff ourselves, loosen our belts to make room for our bloated stomachs, and sit in front of the television watching football, just before we fall into a food coma. We eventually wake up to make a Turkey sandwich from the leftovers.Our ability to overlook Thanksgiving and rush toward Christmas may be more than just “the way it is” in our country. It’s seems to be a symptom of a condition we live with everyday. We have an insatiable lust for more, which exposes our thanklessness for what we already have.
I can honestly say I do not know many who could be characterized by gratitude—and I include myself in that. Our closets overflow with clothes, our refrigerators brim with food and our bank accounts have money sitting around gaining interest; even still, the words, “thank you” are often not heard. We have collectively come to the place where we believe having excess is normal.
Even worse are the moments when we fool ourselves into believing we’ve earned what we have, so we deserve what we have. Beyond this, what we have is rarely enough. How easily we forget that every gift we have comes from our generous, heavenly Father. We experience these gifts every day, rarely taking a moment to say, “Thank you.”
We skip over a holiday focused on thankfulness, and focus on a holiday that has become an unfortunate expression of wanting more.
It’s no wonder we skip over a holiday focused on thankfulness, and focus on a holiday that has become an unfortunate expression of wanting more. It’s how we live every day.
It’s time we work together to change this, and it ought to begin with us.
This doesn’t mean we have to wait to play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. What it does mean is that we would do well to spend the time between now and Thanksgiving focused on gratitude for all we’ve been given.
If we can do this, we just might find we will want less come Christmas day. This is the gift of gratitude. When we take a moment to say “thank you,” we are finally able to see all we have been given. This will allow us to enter the Christmas season with a grateful heart rather than an expectation of getting more.
One small step we can take together for the next few weeks until Thanksgiving is to spend time each day saying “thank you,” to our Father in heaven. Every day until Thanksgiving I will Tweet what I am grateful for using the simple hashtag #ThanksBeforeChristmas. I invite you to do the same so we can share in one another’s thankfulness. This is just a small way we can refocus and remember all we have been given and express proper gratitude to the God who has given it to us.
And once we have thanked God for all He’s given us, we can continue by celebrating Christmas, thanking God for sending His son to earth for us.