So I was in a local mart of commerce a few weeks back, attempting to find some fertilizer in the lawn and garden section of this particular store, when I noticed the section had been utterly usurped of its stated purpose and replaced by Christmas decorations.
As the kindly elder man (who helped me find the fertilizer) rang my purchases up, I could not help but remark: “What happened to Thanksgiving?”
“Not enough money in it,” he quipped with a sly wink.
Am I the only one who notices that the mad consumerist dash toward Christmas commerce is no longer merely nipping at the heels of Thanksgiving, but relegating it to the doghouse altogether? It seems like soon we won’t be calling “Black Friday” the first official Christmas shopping day, but the entire month of November.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the pretty lights, the pageantry, and the gift-wrapped packages under the tree as much as the next guy, but I also like counting my blessings and celebrating in contrite thankfulness. Call me crazy.
A college roommate of mine used to wish people “Happy Native American Holocaust Day” as Thanksgiving approached on the calendar. Come to think of it, he also used to also say it during Columbus Day. But, now that I think about it, he also thought Hallowe’en was a plastics and sugar racket controlled by a “big eastern syndicate,” so take it for what you will.
Yet I find something a bit more grave than mere gravy in this holiday.
The historical foundation for the day is rooted in the arrival of the English Puritans to New England in the 17th Century. Where these and some local Native Americans participated in what we would best understand to be a sort of “potluck” supper.
More than a century later our first president declared the first national day of Thanksgiving by asking all Americans to: “unite in most humbly offering our prayer and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations.”
This was followed by many of his predecessors.
Some of Abraham Lincoln’s most moving speeches were delivered in the Thanksgiving holidays that spanned the American Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt too called upon the nation to thankfulness in his “fireside chats” even as the world was at war.
Nowadays we’ve got the “presidential pardon” of a single turkey, the Detroit Lions getting beat and wanton avarice the day after. Nice.
Thus, it is little wonder that such a time is so quickly shushed aside, for one can no sooner put a price tag on thankfulness than they can purchase it at a cheap price.
It feels as if an increasing emptiness has consumed the day, a strange hunger that cannot be filled with turkey and dressing.
Though it may sound stridently political incorrect of me, but I fear that to divorce the day from providence is to desire a replica over the genuine article.
For how can one feel thankful, if one does not first concede a good bit of one’s own metaphysical sovereignty? If there is no “giving” made, there an be no “thanks” offered.
To whom or what, then, is this day directed? While I am grateful to live the life that I have, enjoying a great abundance of blessings beyond measure, I must understand that there is a means by which such has come to me.
Is it blind and fickle fate? Mere chance or a mathematical outworking of swirling chaos. How does one even think of it in such a way?
“Thank you, unthinking random chance of swirling molecules, that I did not end up a boil on the toe of a bottom- feeding swamp creature… or a Redskins fan.”
No, my friends, it is nothing so common or absurd as this.
Even as there is a Creator and sustainer of the Universe, who crafted its natural order and indwells it with His abiding presence, so too is there a loving and providential hand.
Though we might be tempted to lift our gaze beyond the day that stands before us, let us first stop where we are… and give thanks.
Praise Him, from Whom all blessings flow.