Each year, I feel Christmas sneaking up on me a little more than the year before. Of course, that is probably promoted by Christmas and Holiday decorations, ads, and campaigns starting before we are even out of October! I say this as I have my Pandora station set on a Christmas mix I’ve concocted.
But this week isn’t the week before Christmas. It is the week before Thanksgiving.
In 1620, Pilgrims arrived on the shores of North America. Their journey harder than any could imagine. The 66 days of crossing the Atlantic was for the purpose of seeking religious freedom. They landed much further than intended and spent their first winter aboard the ship. Between exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious diseases, only half of the original 102 passengers survived.
When they finally moved on shore the following spring, they were greeted by an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. He later returned bringing another Native American from the Pawtuxet tribe. This was the introduction of Squanto. He had been captured and sold into slavery but managed to escape in London and return to his home land. It was this man that taught the settlers how to cultivate the earth, understand their surroundings, and even befriend the local Wampanoag tribe.
When November produced their first harvest of corn, the Pilgrims had a feast of thanksgiving that they shared with the Native Americans who helped them in their time of great need.
We know the basis. We learn it when we are still in elementary school. We make paper pilgrim hats or Indian headdresses, and handprint turkeys that hang on our refrigerators for a year until it’s replaced by a new one the following year. But we miss the point.
Thanksgiving is exactly as it’s name suggests. It is a time to give thanks. We buy our humongous turkeys that we slave over in the kitchen, stress over which sides to provide, and pray that there are enough leftovers to provide meals for the next week so we can take a break from our cooking overload.
A prayer of thanks is typically given, but do we really appreciate the blessings that have been poured upon us? If you live in America, if you have a roof over your head, a cell phone, or a car, you are the top 1%. It may not feel that way with bills to pay and working just to make ends meet. But so many around the world have, literally, nothing.
This Thanksgiving I have the opportunity to spend my time with friends that we consider family. While I will miss having the time with my blood family, I am looking forward to the doors that God is going to open. I am looking forward to the chance to have difficult conversations and allow God to speak through me. I am looking forward to being a light of truth. Because this year, I will be reminded of how blessed I am to be saved. I have a home, a beautiful family, and plenty more than just what I need. I am thankful but more than anything else, I have a God that loves me so much that he sent his son to die a horrific death to pay the penalty for the sins and mistakes that I make. But because he is God, in his divine power, he raised him from the dead. Because Jesus has defeated death, I am able to trust my life in his scarred hands and know that when I die, I will be in heaven for all eternity.
That is something to celebrate and give thanks for.