Saturday, November 8, 2014

The loss of Thanksgiving

If the Thanksgiving holiday were a person it would surely have an inferiority complex.

A couple days ago my wife and I watched the Christmas classic Holiday Inn. As the Thanksgiving scene opens, the poor holiday doesn't even have a permanent home on the calendar. Then the holiday itself doesn't get any attention at all. Instead of dancing there is depression. Instead of singing there is a recording of I've got plenty to be thankful for being refuted by the very man who wrote it. Every other holiday in the movie is celebrated in some way, and Thanksgiving's greatest competition for attention gets double billing.

Not only is the Thanksgiving scene sad, it's sad that were already giving Christmas attention on November 6th. When my wife and I were shopping for Holiday Inn, the same day we watched itthere was no problem finding the displays of Christmas movies. I'm sure there are Thanksgiving movies, it's going to take a little more effort to find them though; the same goes for songs and Christmas albums. How many Christmas songs can you name? Now, how many Thanksgiving songs can you name? How many recording artist have a Christmas album? Now, how many recording artists have a Thanksgiving album? And, how many Thanksgiving songs have multiple versions? White Christmas, the feature song of Holiday Inn, has more than 500 recorded versions.

Christmas vies for our attention for two months and gets it, a lot, during those 60 or so days -- list making, card writing, shopping, wrapping, entertaining, meals, parties, decorating, movies, music, commercials, church services, black Friday, cyber Monday, Santa Claus, baby Jesus, mangers, live nativities, trees, stars, lights, cameras, action, action, action. It's no wonder we have trouble pausing half way through to give Thanksgiving our attention. Does Thanksgiving, real thanksgiving, ever get our undivided attention? If, so for how long? Does anyone make a Thanksgiving list that isn't a shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner? Has Thanksgiving become little more than a food and football gorged halftime break for Christmas? Has it become I have plenty to be thankful for, here's my Christmas list for more?

Our go, go, go culture has left us precious little time to stop and be thankful; and Thanksgiving is now right in the middle of the busiest season of the year. I'm not yet 50 years old, but can remember when Thanksgiving wasn't overshadowed by Christmas.

Christmas is front and center from the day after Halloween and lasts until the tree comes down. That's a long time for people that Christmas is a reminder of loss for. For those people, myself included, it is crucial to go counter to the culture and give Thanksgiving and thanksgiving the double billing. Maybe your depressed because job loss has left you with no means to give as you would like. Maybe your sad because a loved one has died. Maybe you can't find any Christmas spirit within yourself. Don't let the overblown Christmas season monster our culture has created steal two months of your life. Focus on the plenty that all of us have to be thankful for. Focus on the first Christmas. Focus on Jesus all year round.

It's not recorded so it won't add to the total but here's my version of White Christmas:

I'm thankful for a while, Christmas
You can wait your turn I know
Let the treetops glisten
after Thanksgivin'
Wait until December snow

I'm thankful for a while, Christmas
With every thank you card I write
May Christmas be merry and bright
After we're all thankful for a while