After missing the third quarter of the Thanksgiving ball game we regain consciousness enough to stumble into the kitchen for leftovers. We load up again, and sleep the sound sleep of a thankful soul. By Friday the tryptophan and carbohydrates have worn off, and we are ready to get on with the real business of the American holiday season: shopping!
Our pilgrim fathers knew nothing of this. They hunted and harvested and cleaned and cooked, but they never stood in lines in front of glass doors waiting for the opening bell. They never rushed through aisles searching for treasures. They never stood in check out lines that stretched to the back of the store. They had it easy.
Black Friday seems to symbolize our rush through life, our efforts to get the best deal, to be first in line. It seems to represent the commercialization of Christmas and threatens to turn Thanksgiving into a season of “thanks getting.” Don’t get me wrong. I like a good deal and deep discounts. I want the American economy to thrive. But, along the way, I hope we cultivate a thankful heart and grateful spirit that is not measured by the sum of what we can get at the cheapest price.
Of course the real substance of Thanksgiving isn’t the turkey and gravy, or even the pie. Nor is it the best discount or our economic prosperity. We are prone to relate gratitude to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But favorable and unfavorable circumstances come to us all. God sends his rain on the just and the unjust. When Jesus met ten lepers he cleansed them all, but only one returned with a thankful heart.
Over the years I have seen, time and again, that the most thankful people are often found among those who have the least and have suffered the most. Somehow prosperity seems to beget arrogance and the fear of losing what we know we cannot keep, whether it is fortune, fame or health. The best gifts come to us from the Father of Lights wrapped in love and thoughtfulness, in the faces of family and friends who belong to one another. I hope this Thanksgiving season is, for you, deep and meaningful and lasting.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15).