The title to this post is from a verse in the Book of Psalms. As part of Thanksgiving folklore, we are told that the Pilgrims, a devoutly harsh and depressing Christian sect, sat down with people they did not like (yes, not very Christian of them) and ate the harvest bounty. Later this story was immortalized with an annual Thanksgiving holiday. As with all holidays, most of the meaning dries up and is forgotten over the years, and the trappings that are associated are the real attraction.
Note to self: If I create a holiday, make it glittery and full of stuff people like to do or it will “go by the way of the Do-Do bird”. Veteran’s Day is a good example. Some people get the day off like banks and the government (but not Veterans…interesting…..) but otherwise it is not universally celebrated unless it means something personal to you because there are no goodies attached. This may sound mean and “scroogie”, but it isn’t my intention. I am merely pointing out the foibles of human nature.
As a Christian, Thanksgiving is meant to be a harbinger of Christ’s birth: be thankful for His mercies and contemplate the blessing of His birth in the upcoming four weeks. And I do, or I try to. But what I have found is that the trappings of the holidays seduce me into celebrating the good food or awesome parties or secret Santa’s instead the simple meaning behind “we do what we do” during this time of year. And frankly I am tired of all the glitter and gold. My favorite holiday was one Christmas when I refused to do any of the stuff a good Christmas observer is supposed to do, and I sat at home, quietly, with a good fire and a warm cat on my lap, thanking God for the birth of Jesus, whatever part of the year that actually was.
Instead of feeling tired and burned out, I was refreshed and joyous. And that is what a holiday should do to people. My church participates in Advent, an idea of giving less gifts to each other and giving more to charities. While the thought of Advent puts fear into the heart of merchants, the gift that will most likely be re-gifted, or broken, or returned (or many other unsavory and unintended verbs) is now used to improve a person’s situation. And yes, some charities are not on the up and up, so choosing carefully is necessary. But a gift of your time, whether it is to a church, charity, homeless shelter or hundreds of other worthy causes, is something that can’t be broken, lost, forged, stolen….and benefits all.
We say we are thankful
when bellies are filled with food.
Then let the game score
fill us with “foulsome” moods.
But thankfulness from the heart
is not edited and thrown on the floor
It is about a gratitude in attitude,
and not changed by referee charts,
nor fizzled by gossip and spite,
nor smothered by mouths that are smart,
nor ruined by an unsavory mate.
For these above are really hidden hate!
True thankfulness is from a heart that is right.
Humbled by humanity’s suffering state;
Troubled by hunger’s sharp darts;
Eager to rejoice in bounty and replicate;
To give God the glory, to share and relate
that without keeping Jesus in sight,
thankfulness is dry dust on a dry plate……