"What do you mean Thanksgiving is next Thursday?" I said that to my friend last week who opened up the whole can of worms by sharing how her stress level was beginning to rise over the Thanksgiving family gathering. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the extra week I thought I had was only in my mind-a delusion- and not real at all. When did November get here anyhow? And now Thanksgiving is Thursday? I have a house to clean, a yard to find underneath all the leaves, groceries to buy, and food to cook. All of a sudden, my stress levels began to rise.
Oh, and let's just complicate things even further by starting Black Friday advertising before the turkeys for the Thanksgiving dinner even hit the grocery stores. I already have the Christmas wish lists from my family because I have to be ready for Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving.
No wait, I can start my "pre" Black Friday shopping even before the turkeys hit the grocery store. If I shop now, I get 60% off of the price that was jacked up 70% just in time for the holidays. If I wait until Black Friday, I only get 50% off, but I do get free shipping.
Wait, why do I need free shipping if I am buying the item in the store?
Here's a better question. Why am I buying the item in the first place? It's not on any of my wish lists. I checked them twice. I think I simply got confused in my excitement over the 60% off and the possibility of free shipping.
So, what day is Thanksgiving again? And what is the reason we celebrate it?
Somewhere along the way, I'm afraid some of us have forgotten the meaning of Thanksgiving. Is it possible that maybe we have lost sight of all the blessings God has lavished on us? I wonder if it's because we, due to expert marketing skills mind you, have been distracted with all the world has to offer. Things that we don’t have are dangled in front of us with shimmering discount lures and we bite – hook, line, and sinker. The next thing we know, we are flopping around on the deck of consumerism, hardly able to breathe.
What if we just stopped? What if we turned off the TVs and put the advertising flyers in the trash…or drawer if withdrawals are too traumatic, and focused on other things or just simply focused on others? What if we decided this Thanksgiving to be so thankful with what we have that our thankfulness spilled over into the lives of others? What if, just this year, we refused to fall into the trap of orchestrating a perfect Thanksgiving dinner or hunting down the perfect gift that is not really needed, even if it is 60% off of the inflated price and ships for free?
What would happen if we focused that energy into little random acts of kindness in the name of Christ?
Here’s an idea from my friend Carolyn that can make the whole family stop and focus on showing the love of Christ instead of being “super family”.
Ask each family or each person coming to the Thanksgiving meal to bring one particular item for care bags. These bags will be packed and given to someone in need. The bags can be for the homeless, for an elderly person living alone, for an expectant mom without a lot of family support, or any other need you may be aware of. After the meal is over and the dishes are washed, line the bags up and get ready to pack.
If the homeless are the intended group, one family may have 10 pairs of socks, another family may have 10 toothbrushes and toothpaste, another may have 10 granola bars and yet another family may have bottled waters, etc. Put one of each item in each bag until all 10 bags have been filled with the same combination of items.
For the elderly, there may be homemade letters and cards that the children made, the adults may have written down and dated 25 personal blessings for the recipient to read one every day until Christmas, another family puts in 10 snacks, another may have put in 10 inexpensive devotional books in large print, or 10 gift cards to a grocery store.
There are as many ideas as your family can dream up!
Deliver the bags to the intended group or divide the bags among the families represented. Keep the bags in the car during the holidays, and as people who could use a glimpse of Christ’s love cross your path, share a bag with them. Let your children help you be God’s hands and feet. Make the acts of kindness great teachable moments for the whole family.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
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