Thanksgiving is a holiday for everyone. From the time a baby is old enough to express happiness at the sight of a face she recognizes or respond positively to the taste of food when he is hungry, that little person is learning the joy of being thankful. Later, a child learns the power of being thankful—so great that adults often teach a child that the words “thank you” are “magic words.” While it is true that expressing gratitude to others is almost always well received, expressing gratitude to God has the powerful effect of lifting our hearts, even in times when we are down. Nothing is more healing than stopping to realize the gifts in our lives. When we think about it, there are always gifts for which to thank God. Among those is the blessing of living in a country that dedicates a holiday for the purpose of saying “thank you” to God.
For Christians, Thanksgiving also serves as the actual beginning of what we know as the Christmas Season. In our churches we call this pre-Christmas time Advent. Although this year Advent’s official beginning comes a little over a week after Thanksgiving Day, there is no question that chief among those blessings for which we give thanks is always the gift of Jesus our Savior at Christmas.
It’s staggering to realize that God loves us to the extent of having come among us as Jesus, Son of God. It is equally staggering to realize that God values our humanity to the point of having been willing to become human and live in the same circumstances as we live. In those times in our lives when we begin to wonder about people and the discouraging uncaring behavior to which people are capable of descending, we must also remember the goodness people are capable of exhibiting. God so values humanity that God was willing to fully become one of us and to show us, in Jesus, how to live up to the goodness of which we are capable with God’s help.
Basically, the example Jesus gave us was one of caring for others and of reaching out to those in need in any way we can. This season, as we give thanks to God for our many blessings and think about how we can select gifts and prepare in other ways to show those in our lives how much we care for them, let’s also look around and see to whom, in addition to those we always remember, we might be able to bring some joy this year. Perhaps there is someone we can include at our holiday table along with our own family members; or maybe there is a note that can be written to someone who you suspect just might not know how much he or she means to you and others; or maybe there is someone who is being treated unkindly on whose behalf you need to find the courage to take a stand. Maybe there is someone or some charitable cause you can add to your gift list this year. We all are different, but we all have ways in which we can help another for the sake of the Christ Child whose coming we await.
I pray the coming weeks will be a meaningful time of joy and discovery for you and those you love as you prepare your hearts and homes for our annual celebration of the coming of God Incarnate among us in the Baby Jesus.