I always feel sorry for Thanksgiving as it constantly lives in the shadow of its much bigger and more popular brother, Christmas. I mean Christmas has much better marketing with all its songs, commercials, decorations, imaginary characters, sales, and Starbucks beverages. What does Thanksgiving get? Turkey, pumpkin pie and Squanto. Even the Thanksgiving Day Parade is usurped by Santa before it’s all over. Plus, many families spend much of the time on Thanksgiving perusing the store ads for Black Friday. It’s like Thanksgiving is just a herald walking through town trumpeting the arrival of Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and the occasions for worship and Christ-centered contemplation it provides, but I’m on a mission to make Thanksgiving a holiday that is not forgotten with the first Bing Crosby song of the season. Church, let’s make some bigger Thanksgiving memories for the glory of God this year!
Giving thanks is a huge part of the Christian life. In Colossians 3:15-17, amidst his commandments for the believers to admonish one another and do everything in the name of the Lord, Paul calls the church to thankfulness three different times in just three verses. Cultivating a thankful heart helps prevent discontentment, anger, greed , and pride, and fosters worship, generosity, peace, and humility. These are all great reasons why we should take advantage of this holiday.
We have a week before Thanksgiving, so we’ve got some time to plan for something that is about more than just gorging ourselves and sleeping in front of the TV. You may already have some Thanksgiving traditions as a family, but if you don’t or if you want to add one, try this. Call your family members before the end of the week and tell them you’d like to spend some time talking about the things you’re all most thankful for. Ask each family member to prepare a list of the top ten (or top five if you’ve got kids that will be going bonkers before too long) things they are most thankful for from the last year. This will give everyone some time to be specific so that everybody doesn’t just say, “My health, my family, and my job.” God has worked in our lives with great precision, so why don’t we thank him with great precision? After the eating has subsided on Thanksgiving Day, ask your family to bust out their list and read it aloud. If there are unbelievers in your family, this will be a great opportunity to proclaim Christ and the goodness of God, and if your family is largely Christian, this will be an occasion for great fellowship. I also dare you to spend time after this bringing those items of thanks directly to God in praise together. We often talk about putting “Christ” back in “Christmas”; let’s do the same for Thanksgiving in making it about more than food and football!