When you think of Thanksgiving, what images come to mind? Deep
fried turkey? Pumpkin pie? Watching football with your family? Perhaps the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
I grew up watching this parade on television, marveling at the giant
helium balloon representations of Sonic the Hedgehog and Bullwinkle, and waiting for Santa to appear so that we were “officially” allowed to start putting up the Christmas tree.
If you think about it, however, the actual events of Thanksgiving Day can be rather underwhelming. In addition to watching the Macy’s Parade, tens of millions of people watch football, while tens of millions of people cook mass quantities of traditional food. Then they all get together to eat more than they should, only to top it off with pumpkin
or pecan pie. Then there’s clean up, a bit more TV, and that just about sums up the day for many of us. It’s more about armchair quarterbacking and eating voraciously than our hearts, even though there can be something wonderful about just being with your family.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask you to give up any of your prized Thanksgiving traditions. Go ahead and watch the parade and the games, if you wish. Drive several hours to grandma’s house and back. Eat way too much turkey. Take a long nap. Or whatever. These can be and are delightful traditions that I greatly enjoy.
But I am going to ask you not to forget the heart of Thanksgiving. In fact, I’m going to encourage you to let Thanksgiving be more than just a day. Why not take time during the week of Thanksgiving and the following week to remember God’s blessings and thank Him for them? If your Thanksgiving Day is already full with family craziness, then set aside some time on the day before or the day after to remember all that God has given, and to say “Thank you.” Better yet, do this for several minutes each day of the week. If you do, not only will you be doing the right thing, since God deserves thanks for all he has done for you, but also you will find that your celebration of Thanksgiving is
richer and fuller than you have imagined it could be. In fact, you might just discover that your overall happiness with life improves.
Expressing heartfelt gratitude to God is one of life’s greatest joys. It’s a joy that many of us rarely experience. And it is the true heart of Thanksgiving. So let me invite you – yes, urge you – to take time in this season of Thanksgiving for real expression of gratitude to God. You’ll be glad you did.
- Boo Scott, Lead Minister at National Park church of Christ