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.
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?
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!