Maybe we can unite holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing…”

I remember singing that song in school around Thanksgiving time. It usually accompanied a discussion about Pilgrims, Indians and the first Thanksgiving celebration.

I loved those school days leading up to the November holiday. Even as a child, I liked the idea of taking time to be thankful, of sharing that time with people close to me. It felt wonderful when we sat together, heads bowed as Daddy blessed the food and expressed thanks for all our many other blessings.

There was something especially holy about stopping, recognizing the things we had and feeling appreciation for those gifts. And, there was something wonderful about sitting together over a meal prepared with love and shared with love.

Lately I have seen a fair amount of discussion, some of it rather negative, about how we tend to jump right over Thanksgiving in a rush to get to Christmas. Maybe that is true because we do always seem to be in a hurry to get to the next big thing before the one happening ends.

I know I heard Christmas music playing in a store the day before Halloween. I had to smile at that one. It seemed a strange mix to see pumpkins and witches while listening to Jingle Bells.

It does seem like the mighty retail machine rolls right over Thanksgiving making it merely the day before Black Friday when the race for holiday bargains goes into high gear. I have even seen that a few stores are open with big deals on Thanksgiving Day.

While it is easy to sit and decry the maddening rush toward holiday shopping before the leftover turkey is gone, that doesn’t do much good and probably just contributes to making us feel bad.

So I found another way to look at it. Christmastime is the season of love and giving. Maybe that is why we are so anxious for its arrival. I’ve always thought of it as a celebration of the birth of amazing, unconditional, all forgiving love into a world that sorely needed it.

However, to receive fully that gift we need hearts filled with thankfulness and gratitude because that makes space in our lives for unconditional love to flourish. And, what better way to begin the observance of a season of love than with a holiday designated for giving thanks.

We can unite the two holidays in a way that brings a deeper meaning to both, but it takes slowing it down a little. It requires us to stop, take a breath and return our hearts to a focus on gratitude. I think if we truly find space in our lives to dive deeply into gratitude and appreciation, we will discover it is a place worth visiting on regular basis.

So, I am not going to fuss about how we’ve lost Thanksgiving. I am going to use it as a time of giving thanks for what we have in this moment and for the wonderful season of love that it ushers in.

In truth, this holiday is only lost if we allow it to be lost because Thanksgiving happens in the hearts of those who choose to bow in thanks as they acknowledge their blessings, and nothing, not even hearing Jingle Bells before Halloween, can take that away from us.

And so I wish you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving as “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing…”