November means the countdown to Christmas has begun. It also means that if you aren’t careful you’ll skip over the best holiday on the calendar- Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving! It’s my favorite holiday. It’s a relaxing time of food and fellowship without the pressure to buy gifts or lavishly decorate everything. There aren’t a lot of preconceived ideas about how everyone should celebrate Thanksgiving. There isn’t a lot of stress. There are football games on the television and sales at the mall. Everyone is happy.
Thanksgiving doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. We’re just getting over the costumes and candy and parties of Halloween. We’re getting into our “rush, rush” mode for the “holiday season” because Christmas not only means shopping, but also writing and mailing cards, wrapping gifts, attending parties, visiting friends, cooking goodies, decorating, and more shopping. Thanksgiving sort of gets the squeeze! I went to WalMart today and there was a whole aisle of Halloween merchandise, two aisles of Christmas items being stocked (with a dozen more planned I’m sure), and one little third of one aisle of Thanksgiving stuff. I know, I know…I just said I like the fact that there isn’t much to buy for Thanksgiving. But that also means it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
It’s easy to plan and decorate for Thanksgiving. Most people already have a few pumpkins and scarecrows left from Halloween. Add a turkey or maybe a cornucopia. Once you’ve decided what you’re cooking you just have to make a list. Shop a couple of times, spend a day cooking and you’re ready. But the simplicity of shopping for Thanksgiving allows you to spend more time on the important things- fellowship and gratitude.
I like Thanksgiving because it reminds me that I am so blessed. Not that I need too much reminding. I begin my nightly prayers with a thank you to God for my family and friends. I say a little prayer each morning when I arrive safely at work. I’m generally aware of how blessed I am. So I guess I don’t need to actually make a list for Thanksgiving. However, Thanksgiving always reminds me of the big things for which I should be thankful. I suppose it’s because I realize that people are gathered all over the nation doing pretty much the same things, that I take the time to be thankful that I live in the United States. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had been born somewhere else. Maybe a list wouldn’t hurt. Maybe if I wrote down everything I’m grateful for I could pull it out and read it once a month. 1. I’m thankful that I have the freedom to voice my opinion. 2. I’m grateful for the work I do and the fact that I can work where I want to work. 3. I appreciate being able to worship the way I want to worship. 4. I’m thankful that I can read anything I want to read, and decide for myself if what I read is the truth. 5. I’m grateful for my health. 6. I know I’m blessed to have my husband and children…My hand will probably start hurting by the time I get to number 50! I saw a poster that said “923 things to make you smile”. I think I could probably list 923 things to make me feel grateful!
Thanksgiving is a fun time at school. The children love to read about and make turkeys and cornucopias and pilgrim puppets. They love to talk about food and anticipate the taste of the turkey or ham or whatever special dish is traditional at their house. We always do that goofy project “tell me how to cook a turkey” and everyone enjoys it. I send home giant construction paper turkey feathers that the children decorate with their parents and return to school. We attach them to a huge turkey on our display wall and the children “o-o-o-h and a-h-h-h” over how pretty it looks. We make pumpkin cheese cake and share it with the other teachers.
Thanksgiving brings back memories of dinners at my mother’s house and my grandmothers’ houses, and my great-grandmother’s house. It reminds me of church potlucks and generosity. It reminds me of people who have shared our table over the years. It reminds me of the year a group of us had a Thanksgiving picnic at Yosemite. It reminds me of love. I hope you take time this November to think about Thanksgiving and to be grateful for all of your blessings. Plan to share Thanksgiving with someone you love. If your family isn’t nearby then plan to cook or serve at a community dinner or a church or a nursing home. Above all take the time to relax and enjoy yourself! It’s your last chance until January.