Thanksgiving or Giving Thanks?


I like Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. As a child I used to look forward to Christmas and the receiving of gifts. But as an adult, I can buy the things I want—even if I have to save up or pay for them over time. Thanksgiving is not about getting. It’s about acknowledging those things already received.

Sadly, as with all major holidays, Thanksgiving has been co-opted by retailers. For some people Thanksgiving is simply the day before Black Friday. Black Friday comes from an old accounting term which refers to making a profit. In the days of manual accounting, negative numbers were written in red. As financial reports were read, the first thing people would do was to look at the bottom line of the income statement (today’s profit and loss statement (P&L)) to see if the numbers were red or black. Red numbers meant a financial loss. Black numbers represented a profit. Accordingly, Black Friday is the day that retails seek to make or boost their profits for the year. It is the beginning of the year-end retail season that goes through mid-January.

Notwithstanding the hyper-commercialization of Thanksgiving, I still enjoy it. No, not because of the turkey—turkey meat is only a five out of ten in my book—but rather because of what the holiday’s name invites us to. Thanksgiving bids us to give thanks. Giving thanks inspires reflection. Reflection generates memories. Memories are how we relive and learn lessons.

When properly engaged, Thanksgiving moves us closer to God as it draws our attention to what He has done on our behalf. In that sense, every day should be Thanksgiving. At least every Sabbath should be. I believe that for genuine believers, every day is Thanksgiving Day. It is something special nonetheless, to have an occasion when people get together in celebration to give thanks.

Of the many family traditions practiced during Thanksgiving, giving thanks is the most important of them. Many Christians give thanks while at the dinner table. Some do so in the morning before all of the kitchen activity begins. Others do it after the Thanksgiving meal. Whenever we choose to do so, what matters is that we do it.

Giving thanks is an empowering and rejuvenating practice. It builds our faith and strengthens our trust. It reminds us that we are not alone. It floods us with a sense of gratitude. It warms our hearts. Not only do we benefit by rehearsing what God has done for us, we are strengthened and encouraged when we hear what God has done for others. And yes, we can do this every day.

As we approach the holiday when families get together and probably eat too much, let’s remember what’s most important. Let’s remember to give thanks.

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