Tell Me About Thanksgiving

Michelle asked the children in her class to tell her about Thanksgiving. She thought it might be effective to inch toward its meaning by having them playfully correct some wrong ideas.

“Now let me think,” she started. “Thanksgiving? That’s the day when we think about all the stuff we have. And how we want more things than anybody else has. And how we don’t care about anybody but ourselves. And … .”

“No!” the preschool kids were starting to chorus!

Then one little guy in the middle of the pack looked up and chirped, “That’s not Thanksgiving, Miss Michelle. That’s Christmas!”

Even children understand that there is something unique about the fourth Thursday in November. As much as I love Christmas, its radical commercialism leaves all of us feeling jaded at times. Children hadn’t yet collected their Halloween candy this year, but stores and television ads in the area where I live had already started the Santa shakedown.

Thanksgiving has somehow escaped almost unscathed. Oh, the florists may do a little extra business and there are greeting cards for Thanksgiving but the focus of the day is still generations gathered at family tables. The traditional meal is pre-microwave and, so far, at least, there is no McTurkey or cranberry pizza.

An essay by Walter Shapiro makes this point: “In a nation where the mall never palls and seven-days-a-week shopping seems enshrined as a civic religion, Thanksgiving stands out as an oasis of tranquility and a reminder of the values that once tempered America’s materialism. This Thursday give thanks for the one holiday that cannot be bought.”

Before you sit down to your loaded table this week, do something to help insure that a person or family whose year has been bleaker than yours will have a hearty Thanksgiving meal too. Then, when you finally do sit down to your own, don’t feel guilty—just blessed—and bow with your dear ones to give God your sincere gratitude. As you get up from a table still heavy with leftovers, pray silently for God to make you sensitive to those whose hearts cry out for hope.

The blessings we celebrate will become our curse, unless we receive them with grateful hearts and with a willingness to share.

By  Rubel Shelly