Thanksgiving 2020

It is Thanksgiving 2020.

This year has been a difficult year for so many. Regardless of your political views, opinions on masks and lockdowns, level of health, or place of residence, the likelihood that you are among those who struggled this year is fairly high.

Exactly 400 years ago in the year 1620, the ship The Mayflower reached the shores of Cape Cod. What followed may be called the greatest trial in the lives of some of those pilgrims, if not all; out of their small band of just over 100 people, nearly every one fell terribly ill. Half of them died before the end of their first winter. During their first year in the New World, the pilgrims underwent intense hardships, privations, and losses. Yet, when harvest time came in 1621 and they found themselves blessed by God with a good harvest, they invited their friends and celebrated a Thanksgiving feast because the LORD had blessed them.

I am not going to try to compare our hardships to the pilgrims of 1620. I don’t think that can be done, neither do I find it helpful. Job losses, illness, depression, loneliness, disappointment, loss of loved ones… I know the list goes on. Our hardships look different than those of the Plymouth colony, but hardships they are. As we near the end of the year, “2020” has become synonymous with a bad time. If they could, there would be a rush to end it yesterday and get on to the, hopefully, brighter future of 2021. Thanksgiving Day seems so insignificant and boring in light of some of the other things we’ve been fighting.

Let me encourage you, however, to take a step back and pause. I’m not going to tell you that you need to wait for Thanksgiving Day to pass before you put up your Christmas decorations – it’s a little late for that anyhow. I would like to suggest though that, this year, this difficult, painful year, where so many of us, myself included, have experienced fear, loss, loneliness, heartache, isolation, illness, job loss, and many other things – may I submit that this year is the year that we need to follow in the footsteps of the Plymouth Pilgrims and remember Thanksgiving.

This year, the year where so many difficulties, trials, and struggles seem to have collided into one place, this year where we are tempted to just wish the year be gone, this year is the one that we need to remember Thanksgiving and practice the name in deed. This is the year we need to take the time to recall the blessings that the LORD planted in the midst of the trials – and I know that He did – and thank Him for those, because this is the year it’s difficult. This is the year, we want to get wrapped up in our trials and might just forget altogether.

Have we eaten? Talked to our best friend on the phone? Attended church? Made a new dress? Found a new job? Enjoyed a Zoom call? Reached the end of a project or goal? Worked through depression? Written a book? Read a book? Bought a new book? Found a new favorite song? Taken up walking? Spent more time with people that you normally don’t see very often? Survived a dreadful illness? Had water to drink? How about coffee or tea, or even better, both?

These are blessings, even in the midst of trials. (And I know there are more. I’m not trying to be exhaustive.) These are gifts of the LORD to the people that He created and we, as His people, ought to be thanking Him no matter what has gone on, because He is good and His mercy endures forever. And even if we can’t think of a single thing – and I’m certain we can if we try hard enough – have we been forgiven and cleansed by the saving blood of the Redeemer? Am I a child, loved by my Father, the Creator of the Universe? Then we have much reason to be thankful!

This year, more so than its easier predecessors, we need to refuse to allow ourselves to brush off or forget Thanksgiving. Christmas is beautiful – but it can wait (or take a break) for a day. This year, even more than we ever have before, let’s take this day and thank the LORD for His blessings, His provision, His love and kindness. Make lists, share on social media, talk about them with others. We should be filled with thanksgiving and praise to the LORD every day, but let’s make a point to set aside this Thanksgiving holiday as an especially grateful one. Let us join the psalmist and “come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us joyfully shout with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a King about all gods…” And He is still great and still King, even amidst the hardships of 2020. Let’s remember that and thank Him!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Psalm 107:1

To the KING be all the glory!

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.


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!

‘Twas Days To Thanksgiving – Part Three …

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving
And all through the house,
Everyone was rushing
Like a flock of scared grouse!

The pies were all baked
And the cheesecakes were finished,
The dressing was cooked –
Much baking prep diminished!

“The kitchen must be cleaned!
And the counters wiped down!
The rooms must be made
The tidiest in town!”

So the family went flying
Tripping over the dog,
Who imagined himself
A live, sleeping log.

A cat became terrified
When there arose a loud clatter –
That nothing would harm him
Didn’t seem to matter.

Finally the great turkeys –
And yes, there were two –
Were set on to cook –
It was the last thing to do.

Now the sleepy family,
It being midnight,
Were nearly ecstatic
To see bed in sight!

To the KING be all the glory!

‘Twas Days To Thanksgiving – Part Two …

T’was two days to Thanksgiving,
And the family began,
To prepare for the stuffing,
Baking cornbread by the pan.

They put together mixes
For their biscuits turned rolls,
And for their sweet pie crusts –
Mixes filled giant bowls!

Then each mix was placed,
On it’s own for the wait –
Each mix was destined,
For it’s own yummy fate.

Dinner for Saturday,
When company would be here,
Was pre-made and frozen,
Until it’s time should be near.

While all this goes on,
They try to keep dishes in check –
Trying to prevent,
The kitchen becoming a wreck!

At last, the evening,
Draws softly to a close,
Tomorrow will be
A great rush, each one knows!

To the KING be all the glory!

‘Twas Days To Thanksgiving – Part One …

I planned to post this last night, but I didn’t get around to finishing it …

‘Twas three days to Thanksgiving,
And in one great land,
Preparations were starting –
Folks were beginning to plan.

In one little house,
In the heart of the city,
There lived a large family
A dog, two cats and a kitty.

They were making their lists
And checking supplies,
Making sure of ingredients
For stuffing and pies.

When they finished their shopping
They rechecked their lists,
Trying to be sure,
There was nothing they missed!

With preparations all finished –
Just for today –
They sat down to rest –
Until tomorrow, they say …

To the KING be all the glory!