Thanksgiving has typically been one of my favorite holidays. In my family, we gather in the morning to play football. Then we head home, cleanup, and have dinner. We gather with family and enjoy our time together. By evening we are stuffed and tired.
I have many fond memories of Thanksgivings past. I remember the numerous times we were at my grandparents. I remember many times being at our home with aunts, uncles, and cousins in addition to all of us.
Thanksgiving was always the "official" kickoff to the Christmas season. I think that is one reason it was always so wonderful to me. I looked forward not only to Christmas as a day, but as a season. I loved the holiday music, the lights, the sights and sounds in stores as you did your Christmas shopping.
I still look forward to Thanksgiving, and mostly for the reasons that I've already listed. Of course, it is a time to think about our blessings and give thanks to God. But I try to do that on a daily basis and so, in that sense, this day is not so different from the others. It's the time spent with family that I love the most.
But my views of holidays, and Christmas in particular, have undergone a bit of a revision. I no longer look forward to all the commercial aspects of it all. Instead, I want to focus on the spiritual significance of it.
Thanksgiving is no longer the kickoff for Christmas. It is simply Thanksgiving. Shortly thereafter, we begin to observe the season of Advent. This is a preparation for Christmas, but not Christmas yet. It makes us ready for Christmas. The celebration of Christmas begins on Christmas day and lasts until Epiphany, which is on January 6th.
I have not yet developed set customs for the twelve days of Christmas. But, contrary to the popular song, I am trying to steer clear of relating it with gifts. Instead, it is a wonderful time to ponder the deep mysteries of our God coming to this earth as a baby. It is a time to remember this wonderful Gift of our salvation. Which, I guess, in a way, brings me back to Thanksgiving.
How wonderful is our God! How many things we have for which we can give thanks! Amen!