Friday, November 22, 2013

Learning Thanksgiving

 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, and call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.”  1 Chronicles 16:8 NASB

If ever a person grew up with a faulty understanding of Thanksgiving, it would be me.  As I have shared before, my parents were not church people.  In fact, I wasn’t sure my mother was a Christian until just a few years before she died, and I asked Van to “make sure” while she was in the hospital losing her battle with cancer.  It wasn’t part of our lives.  It makes me sad in a way, but so thankful that my girls are having a different experience.

So, with that intro, my understanding of Thanksgiving was pretty incomplete.  Of course, I remember what the public school taught me; Indians (uhm, Native Americans), Pilgrims, and Turkeys.  I knew it had to do with the founding of our nation, but that was about the extent of it.  I hadn’t connected the “thanks” to the “giving.”  For me, it was simply another holiday that was more or less built around food and football. My parents weren’t scholars, mom finished the 8th grade, and dad finished the 11th.  They weren’t able to shed much more light on the subject than I had gleaned from my teachers.
As I got older, my mom went to work for JCPenney.  This translated the holiday for me in a whole new way.  Before “Black Friday” was called such, it was known as “the day after Thanksgiving” and in the retail world then as it is now, it was HUGE.  Of course our family was affected by this, and my understanding of Thanksgiving was skewed a little more to the secular view of the holiday.  Still, my stage in life made it pretty difficult to sort through all of the “stuff” around the holiday to really learn what it means to give thanks.  This was further complicated when I began working for JCP and experienced the day after Thanksgiving myself.  As a commissioned salesman, my new understanding was “thanks” for “giving” us your money!

Sadly, I was well into my adult years before I began to really appreciate all that this holiday really represents.  I began to understand the plight of those early settlers who had endured the harsh, north east winter, and escaped with their lives; a time to say “thank you.”  I also learned to look back on a year of God’s blessings, and life’s challenges and to pause just for a time to say “thank you.”
As life has rambled on and now I have a couple of kids of my own, Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite times of year.  I love it because we get a chance to take a look back.  We get permission to hit the pause button for a day.  I’m careful to help my kids understand what I have learned since becoming an adult.  I’ve finally put thanksgiving together. I get it now.  We NEED Thanksgiving.  We need to be reminded of the millions of little blessings that we are so quick to take for granted.  We need to pause, reflect, and thank the Lord for all He has done.  The things we know about, and the ones we don’t.

Thanksgiving is no longer just a holiday for our family.  It is a time of reflection, gratitude, and joy.  More than that, I hope that the longer I live, the more Thanksgiving will become a daily part of my life, recognizing that the Lord has been with me, every step of the way.

Scripture to Claim:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders.  I will be glad and exult in Thee; I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.”  (Psalm 9:1-2)

Submitted By Keith Warren

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