In Defense of Thanksgiving

I’ll begin by saying that Christmas is easily my favorite season. So, before you call me a Scrooge, recall to mind those words – and the fact that I have now written three Christmas books with hopes for a fourth. I am no Scrooge. I am no Grinch. So, why do I want to leave November open for Thanksgiving and make Christmas wait until the day after the holiday?

Some people do consider me a bit of a fanatic when it comes to celebrating holidays within certain time frames. When October 31st fades into November, I refuse to let the Christmas season commence. Yes, some of my comments regarding waiting for Christmas are facetious, but let me take a moment to give you my defense of letting Christmas wait for Thanksgiving.

Importance

Giving November – or much of it – to Thanksgiving gives the holiday importance. I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I have only to look around and see that October is increasingly filled with decorations, parties, and costumes, because Halloween is important to people. Christmas has a season of colors, movies, and traditions, because it is important. I want to leave November open for Thanksgiving because it too is important.

Sure, Thanksgiving may not be as exciting. Most people don’t dress up in costumes, give gifts, or have music dedicated to the holiday. Not everyone decorates. So, let’s change that. Let’s dress in orange and browns and burnt umber. Let’s write music and relearn the hymns of Thanksgiving that we’ve forgotten. Let’s set up the pumpkins and squash and nuts and pine-cones – and whatever else you might find that gives a cozy atmosphere. Make a thankful tree or send out letters telling your friends and family that you’re thankful that they are in your life. If you must, hang out orange lights on your house. (If they make orange lights; I’m not certain they do.) Be creative! That’s how all holidays get their traditions anyhow – once upon a time, someone was creative.

It’s not the excitement that lends the importance, it’s the meaning behind the holiday. For the Christians I know who celebrate Halloween, it’s important because of the fun and the memories. (I’m not getting into the roots of Halloween or anything like that right now.) Or, in my case, Reformation Day is important, because it’s a reminder of what the LORD has done by His power and through His children in History. Christmas is important because we celebrate the birth of Christ as a human baby on this earth. We have all sorts of traditions and things we do, to celebrate these seasons, to remind ourselves of the memories of years past and why the holidays are important. What then is important about Thanksgiving?

Our Heritage

We have generations of heritage in our country, that points back to a time of Thanksgiving, going back to 1621. Sure, it hasn’t been an every year event since the Pilgrims. And yes, we can quibble about whether or not a Puritan Thanksgiving actually would involve a feast, or if the event of 1621 should be called something else. No matter what we argue, however, our November Thanksgiving every year is rooted in that celebration in Plymouth. The history and heritage of our nation is inextricably woven into our celebration. It’s our heritage, therefore we ought not to throw it away.

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.” Psalm 143:5

Remembering the days of old is even Biblical – particularly, when we’re doing it to remember the works of the LORD. We have the privilege of joining with our peers and predecessors in an event that recognizes God’s hand in guiding the Pilgrims to this land and His subsequent provision ever since. We get to look back at the early 1600’s forward and see the LORD’s hand and orchestration.

“I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:11

To remember a Providential landmark in our personal history as a nation is important.

It’s in the Name

The other reason that Thanksgiving is important is in the name of the holiday.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

We, as Christians are called to give thanksgiving to the LORD. For provisions, trials, blessings, – even our very life. Yes, we’re to give thanks every day, but setting aside a few weeks in the year to really focus on giving thanks is a good way to reset our minds for the coming year and look back on His providence from the previous year. Twenty-odd days in November is hardly enough to thanks Him for all that He has done, but it’s a good start.

And that is what the roots of Thanksgiving are about. Thanking the Almighty. That’s what the Pilgrims did. That’s what many have been doing and what the main focus has been for many Americans across many years ever since. Thanking the LORD for food to eat, clothes to wear, the people in our lives, the gift of another year, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. Thanking Him for the trials that have brought us closer to Him; for His grace through the dark times. For the birth of children, healing, provision where we expected only famine, blessings where we didn’t expect anything at all. To celebrate and thank the One who gave us everything.

This is why I reserve November for Thanksgiving. Not because I don’t like Christmas. Not because I am a Scrooge. But because I want to remember to be thankful. Because I want to place importance on this holiday that focuses on thankfulness and the LORD’s hand in history and our lives today.

“Giving thanks always for all things until God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:20

To the KING be all the glory!

Connection to the World at Large…

It’s not often that I think about my connection to the world. I don’t tend to consider what my connections are to the wild, bustling planet of continents, countries, counties, cities, towns, villages, communities, and homes. In person, I interact with so few and such small pockets of my community.

Presented, however, with the question on one thing that connects me to the world at large, I thought for a bit. After consideration, I would have to decide on literature.

As a child, I devoured all the books that my parents provided. Isabella Alden held prominence as my favorite author, giving me a glimpse into American life in other parts of the country, albeit, in the early twentieth century. My other favorites O.F. Walton and Hesba Stretton as well as a few other Lamplighter titles gave me my first glimpse into the dirty streets of London and the glowing countryside of England.

As I grew older, Arthur Conan Doyle took me through various corners of Britain, while Douglas Bond showed me the bonny braes and beautiful accents of the Scottish. G.A. Henty introduced me to the French, aided by Mr. Dickens who also let me explore Britain in more detail, while strengthening my growing fondness for Egypt and the Scots.

True, many of these books are old. Classics. Jules Verne showed me a world long since aged and shifting. Carriages no longer rumble through London as Mr. Dickens told of and I know the mines aren’t run as Hesba Stretton described. It didn’t matter. The connection had been made.

I still love those connections and still enjoy learning about their more modern ways. I’ve studied many of the countries and their ways both historically and modern day because of those stories. England is on my list to visit some day. I would love to learn the French language. If I could choose to give myself any accent, I’d pick a Scottish one.

Further, their influence makes it into much of my writing. The reverend and his wife who join Georgiana’s church in Grandmother’s Letters are from England. The Wallace clan, who appear more than once in multiple books, began in Scotland, while the patriarch David Wallace shows the accent of his native home in his speech. Knowing what I do about my own future projects, I know that influence isn’t going to wane any time soon.

In my every day life, I use English and Scottish words, I play around with the accents of multiple countries both when reading aloud and just when I feel like it, and I enjoy watching movies or shows that show life and characters from around the world, especially those places that I learned to love through my books.

Certainly, there are other connections that I could ponder and pontificate upon. So much in this world is connected and interconnected, often only in ways that the Creator of this intricate tapestry of life can see and identify. I do think, however, that literature might be my favorite connection, it certainly is one of them, and I’m rather thankful that it can be.

To the KING be all the glory!

It’s Been Twenty Years…

One of my favorite pictures of Papa and Nana…

Today marks twenty years since the last time that I celebrated my grandmother’s birthday. Twenty years since my childish excitement over another year being added to her age, mixed with an apprehension, immature and somewhat vague as it was, over her future.

There are times that it doesn’t seem possible that it has been so long. I can still remember her face clearly. Remember sitting in her lap. Remember her teasing me. Remember her showing me one of her rings, telling me all about when and why Papa bought it for her. That ring is mine now.

It is times like these that, no matter the struggles it causes on other days, I am thankful for my memory. I am blessed to be one of the few grandchildren who remember Nana. Or Papa and Nana together.

One of my favorite memories is set in Papa and Nana’s living room. Nana had on a green turban, since she had lost her hair to chemo and she didn’t always want to wear a wig. Papa had his guitar on his knee. Together, in harmony, and to the strumming of Papa’s guitar, they sang about how they “ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog,” and “I’m not looking for a hole in the ground, I’m looking for a hole in the sky!” I wish I could hear them sing again.

Despite being barely eight when Nana died, I still miss her. I am, however, so thankful for memories. Thankful that I can remember. That I can tell my younger siblings and cousins about her. So thankful.

To the KING be all the glory!

 

~Why I Love Being an Author…

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My friend and fellow author, Erin Nichole, put up a post awhile back titled, Why I Love Being an Author. That sounded like a fun idea for a post, and while mine won’t be filled with all the lovely photographs that she graced her post with, I decided to do my own version, listing just a few of my favorite parts of being an writer. It simply took me forever to take this post from paper, to Word document, and then to blog.

~ I get to work and play with words. All kinds of words. Long words, short words, complicated definitions, and simple meanings. I get to create word pictures, use similes, and research synonyms to my heart’s content!

~ My characters. Maybe this should have been first. Obviously, this is only related to anything that I write that is fictional though. (And I like writing non-fiction. Don’t let the long periods of my silent blog fool you!) Still, I love my characters. I learn so much through writing about them – more than I ever thought I would. And, while it may sound cliché, my characters are almost like my “friends,” because they are very real in my head. Even the ones who aren’t based after someone I know. Sometimes those are even more “real” to me, than the others. I even go back to read my own books, just because I start missing them.

~ I get to weave a complicated tapestry with these fictional lives, as best as I can, and it’s just so much fun! I also get to delve into one of my favorite things – a mystery. I almost never know the end of my book, before I get there. I love that! It keeps life adventurous.

~ The LORD teaches me so much, while I write. I’ve mentioned this before, but He does. And I hope He doesn’t stop. Often, it’s been downright painful, but it’s also been beautiful.

~ The readers. I love hearing that someone enjoyed my book or how one of my writings touched them in some way. Anyone who might be blessed, because of something I wrote, is an answered prayer.

~My imagination gets to stretch. The part of crafting a story, where you know what A represents and you understand C, but you have no idea what B is or how it builds a bridge between A and C – and you really just haven’t a clue how any of these tie into E and F at all, but you’re still missing G… My imagination gets to work a lot and, sometimes, that means lots of dishes get washed. Because my imagination’s sidekick, seems to be a stack of dirty dishes.

There you have it! Just a few reasons for why I love being an author!

To the KING be all the glory!

Definitively Defining

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Joy.

Have you ever lived your entire life, saying and hearing and writing and seeing words, knowing the meaning or thinking you know the meaning, and then, one day, you decide to try to define those words, actually define the meaning in clear simple English… and you find that you can’t?

Thankfulness.

Have you ever believed that your life reflected a virtue, believed that other people can see it, then you find yourself brought face to face with a definitive picture of that virtue… and you realize that you don’t have that virtue at all. Or if you do, it’s pretty shallow and not very strong.

Praise.

Trust.

Some people don’t think definitions are very important. All my life I’ve heard words, connected certain definitions to those words, and lived my life based on those definitions.

You know, a dictionary is an amazing thing. I’ve always loved ours, but I don’t think I ever used it enough. The Bible is even more amazing, but have you ever thought that a proper understanding of the definition of a single word, can make a well-known Scripture verse even more powerful?

For instance, the definition of joy. To rejoice; to be glad; to exult. That can certainly give new meaning to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” James 1:2

Or how about thankfulness: Gratitude; a lively sense of good received. Follow that up with “In everything give thanks: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Then there is the definition of praise… To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works. And To do honor to; to display the excellence of. Then I find this verse: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

How about trust? Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I got these from Mr. Webster’s 1828. It’s my favorite. :)

So, you might be wondering what my point is, about now.

I’ve read these verses a hundred times. Maybe more. But I haven’t always either fully known or just brought to mind the fullness of the definition behind the words. For instance, if I am to consider it all joy – whenever I face trials – I am to rejoice when I am facing trials. Rejoice!

Taking these definitions in hand, I can say that I am to rejoice during any trials, while having a lively sense of gratitude at all times, extolling my LORD in song continually, while resting my mind on the integrity, veracity, and justice of the King of Kings.

Also, notice the continual use of “whenever” or “continually” or “in everything.” There shouldn’t be a break in any of these. There will be. I am finite, human, and lacking in perfection. I am fallen and not without sin, therefore, I will fail. But these should be in my focus. They should be in the forefront of my life. I should be joyful, thankful, praising, and trusting every day and every minute of my life, and when I am not, I should be realizing that and working to fix it.

But, when I do fail, it’s a sin against my LORD and that brings me to repentance. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)
 
If I truly repent, than He truly forgives. To relinquish the practice of my sin, means I must acknowledge or confess it first. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Forgiveness: The act of forgiving; the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. The pardon or remission of an offense or crime; as the forgiveness of sin or of injuries.

The pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. That line… The LORD offers me that. Despite the fact that I sin so much and so often. Praise Him for that! “Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117)

The dictionary is an amazing tool. One that should be utilized more often and not forgotten. Methinks I shouldn’t let it get so dusty quite so often.

To the KING be all the glory!