We were in Hobby Lobby before Halloween and stumbled into ... The Christmas Zone! Yep, it's coming earlier every year. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is fast approaching and Christmas is right around the corner.
It seems like Dec. 25 has become a celebration of getting things. Sure, many people strive to observe the real meaning of the season (according to their faith), and certainly some of us prefer giving over receiving. Let's be honest, however. For most of us, our greatest joy comes in guessing what is wrapped in that festive paper and tied with a bow.
Most of us revert to our childhood and shriek with happiness when we hold up that beautiful sweater or new electronic gizmo. And don't we all love to watch the sparkle in children's eyes as they rip open those packages?
A quiet observance
We want to back up about a month and remind mom and dad to help their children regard the Thanksgiving season with a renewed reverence. Don't skip over it. Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday for many. There is no stampede to the department store the night before. Seldom are there gifts to unwrap. Thanksgiving is a quiet, almost contemplative day when families come together and express gratitude for one another, for friends, for their homes—for their abundant blessings, and hopefully to remember those who struggle to keep themselves and their families afloat.
The invisible among us
There are many among us who are simply grateful that they made it through the night, having slept for a few minutes under a bridge or in an alley. Some people—perhaps our neighbors—are thankful for the feeding program in the nearby church or for the loaf of stale bread they found in a dumpster. Some folks are alone. Their families have given them up for dead or as hopeless human beings. Dressed in rags and wandering the streets, or incarcerated, these people are shunned, ridiculed or just simply invisible.
Plant a seed, grow a value
You can give your children a really terrific gift this Thanksgiving. You can instill a precious value in them that will take seed and grow for a lifetime—the gift of reaching out to those less fortunate, less loved, less cared for, perhaps less lucky. Teach this to your children by example.
Be thankful, show thanks
In this column, we seldom tread outside the secular realm because of the many cherished belief systems in our country. As an exception, we offer this meditation that you can share in your own way with your family:
God, how can I thank you for all my blessings, unless I …
spend less on myself,
give more to others,
befriend the friendless,
help the helpless,
strengthen the weak,
lift up the downcast,
give hope to the hopeless,
defend the defenseless,
embrace the rejected,
clothe the naked,
and feed the hungry?
I have so much for which to be thankful. But one thing I ask and one thing only—help me to show thanks, not just with heart and lips, but by the very life I live and give.