Well. Thanksgiving came and went like it usually does—sandwiched between announcements for doorbusters and slashed prices, marched away at the brisk and unforgiving space of its Christmas carol escorts. We call it a holiday, but it might be more accurate to refer to Thanksgiving as the last paper wall standing between retailers and their Christmas displays. With the formalities officially out of the way, we as a nation can move on to a month of shopping and sales and wish lists…and also I guess peace on something and goodwill towards something something.
At least until National Donut Day becomes federally recognized, Thanksgiving is the only national holiday my family and I observe—so it makes me particularly peevish when media and marketing strap on their great big boots of consumerist greed and commence pulverizing Turkey Day before we even have the chance to put it in the oven. But hey, that’s not what I came here to talk about today. At least not mostly.
When Abraham Lincoln established “the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” he envisioned it as a day when the bountiful gifts of God “should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People” (Proclamation of Thanksgiving). And so since 1863, the American people have had one day out of the year set aside for the express purpose of giving thanks to their Creator for all His blessings in their lives.
But here’s the thing: That’s just one day. One day out of the 365 that fill our calendar year is dedicated to thanksgiving. The rest? There are plenty of other days set aside for plenty of other reasons, but no others make the idea of giving thanks their central tenant.
It’s becoming more and more popular each year on Facebook to spend each day of the month of November posting a status about something you’re thankful for. And that’s awesome! I imagine one of the best ways to stay mindful of your blessings is to take the time to write them out. But while that’s a significant improvement over one out of 365 days, it’s still only one out of 12 months focused on giving thanks.
What are we doing the other 11 months? Are those months for shifting our focus toward the things we want, the things we need, and the things we wish we had? Are they the months for forgetting about being thankful for what God has given us?
I’m not saying that we all turn into ungrateful, self-centered fuss buckets the second we leave the Thanksgiving season…but I do wonder if it’s easier to slack off in gratitude when all our thankfulness hinges on one day or even one month of the year. In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul encourages the Church to be “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). It goes beyond a day; it goes beyond a month. What a Christian truly needs isn’t just a day of Thanksgiving, but a lifetime.
Our country seems so eager to speed past Thanksgiving and everything it represents—but regardless of the current calendar day, let’s make sure that we as Christians are striving to make the thanksgiving attitude a yearlong event.
Until next time,