4 Reminders for When You're Tempted to Skip Thanksgiving
- Brent Rinehart www.apparentstuff.com
- 2014 21 Nov
Earlier this month, I was in a store, staring face-to-face with a giant inflatable Frosty the Snowman. He wasn't alone either. Next to him was an assortment of air-filled lawn ornaments: a rotund Santa Claus, larger than necessary snowglobes, and giant gingerbread houses. Beneath them, I saw rows and rows of wreaths, lights, bows and ornaments – everything one might need to decorate for Christmas.
Here’s my problem: it was the beginning of November, and there’s still an important holiday on the calendar – Thanksgiving.
As soon as the dust settles on Halloween, we get inundated with marketing messages for Christmas. The Fall Festival Trunk-or-Treat candy is still in its wrapping when we begin hearing about pre-Black Friday sales. Marketers care very little about Thanksgiving (unless it’s deciding if they should open their doors on Thursday to make a few extra bucks).
Retail stores aren’t the only ones jumping the gun. Surely, an Adult Contemporary / Top 40 radio station in your area is already playing Christmas music around the clock. I could go without hearing “Santa Baby,” “Last Christmas” or “Christmas Shoes” at all during the Christmas season. For some reason, it’s even worse if you hear them in early November.
It certainly has an effect on us. We see snow-filled commercials about 40-percent off deals, we hear Burl Ives on the radio, and we either find ourselves feeling the Christmas spirit, or we panic. We think of all the things we have to do to get ready for the busy season. Either way, it’s bad, I would argue, to get caught up in the Christmas hype before its time. In doing so, we are fast-forwarding to Christmas and as a result skipping Thanksgiving like it's our least favorite song on a playlist. Thanksgiving is too important for that.
At this point, someone will undoubtedly point to our need to be thankful the other 364 days of the year. We can look forward to our Christmas celebrations because we as Christians are thankful the year round. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).
Unfortunately, we don’t always live in a state of thankfulness 365 days a year like we should. If you are anything like me, you sometimes need a pretty good kick in the pants every November (in the form of a national holiday) to truly stop and sincerely reflect on how good God is to us.
If you find yourself in danger of missing the opportunity due to the Christmas rush (alas) there is hope. When you feel the urge to fast-forward to Christmas and skip Thanksgiving, take these simple precautions.
Pause. The first step is to stop. Take a deep breath. Today there are so many things fighting for our attention. Every item on the Christmas list will seem crucial. It will appear as though starting before Thanksgiving is the only possible way to get everything done. But, that mindset is focusing on the wrong thing. Perhaps there are too many things on your list in the first place, and it’s time to simplify and pare it down. Hit the pause button, and take the time to relax and reset.
Rewind. Think about the past year and how faithful God has been. When I do this exercise, I can’t help but think of my son. He’s over a year old now and as healthy as an ox (and almost as big). But, with each milestone we celebrated with him this past year, I think about his first week in the NICU while doctors tried to figure out why he was having spells where he didn’t remember how to breathe. I think about all of the other families we would see on a daily basis and the struggles they were going through with their tiny babies. God has been so good to my family.
As I rewind, I see the blur of news coverage of crisis after crisis around the world that has taken place in 2014: Ebola, Boko Haram, ISIS, ongoing tensions between Israel and Hamas, plane crashes, suicide bombings and more. In light of this, most of us can’t help but give God thanks for his goodness, love and mercy in our own lives.
Record. If you journal, keep a journal. If you blog, blog about it. If you tweet, tweet about it. The point is this: unless you have a photographic memory, we tend to forget things. Record these times in your life when God has really shown his greatness to you. Each Thanksgiving, you’ll have something to which to refer, tracking these recorded spiritual markers and mileposts.
Repeat. This is the most important step. Thank God over and over again. The exact verse “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” appears at least five times in the Psalms, with similar language in other passages. The psalmist, and others, understood the importance of repeating our thanksgiving and praise to God. God deserves it and he wants it. Thanksgiving provides a perfect opportunity to give it to him.
This year, let’s remind ourselves that there will be plenty of time to prepare for Christmas. Looking forward to the celebration is worthwhile, but let’s not let our busyness with unnecessary to-dos crowd out the opportunity stop and be thankful.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brentrinehart.
Publication date: November 21, 2014