I went to the mall on November 14th this year. It made me sad. And then—then it made me mad.
Christmas is here, apparently. Santa’s got his chair all ready to go. Ornaments hang cheerfully from the mall ceiling. Christmas songs are playing.
As I looked around, I wondered: What happened to Thanksgiving? Where are the decorations for Thanksgiving? Where are the pictures of Pilgrims and Indians? I miss Thanksgiving with the Walton family. Forgetaboutit. It’s time to buy more stuff. Everyone’s talking about Christmas. The sales. The glitz. The sparkle.
Thanksgiving doesn’t sparkle. It has a softer glow about it. Thanksgiving offers a quiet peace. Thanksgiving offers time to reflect and to be thankful–and heaven knows we need more of that these days. I wonder if we’re forgetting Thanksgiving.
Here in my neck of the woods, we roll Santa out right after the mummies go back into storage.
Is it happening where you live, too? Every year, Christmas decorations go up earlier. Every year, we hear less about this cherished tradition of giving thanks. Bring on the gift giving. Americans like to GET things—and in the process, we’ve allowed ourselves to forGET that it’s better to give than to receive.
I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to know the history behind Thanksgiving. I want them to know about Squanto and the Mayflower. I hope they realize what those Pilgrims came here for. They came for freedom.
I want them know that it Thanksgiving would have disappeared altogether if Sarah Hale had not petitioned no less than five US Presidents to make it a national holiday.
In Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, we see a glimpse of Sarah Hale’s spirit. She wrote persistently to officials in many levels of government promoting the observance of Thanksgiving as a unified national holiday. Not a woman to take “No” for an answer, Sarah kept on writing. For four decades and five Presidencies, Sarah wrote. She believed that observing Thanksgiving was a way that we, as a nation, could be unified. In October, 1863, President Lincoln, perhaps in response to an editorial Hale had published in the magazine she edited, read a Thanksgiving proclamation to “fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Read her amazing letter here.
We’re missing it if we miss this special time.
But then, we’re missing a lot of things in the United States these days.
Forgetting Thanksgiving, or even side-lining it, is a big mistake.
But then, we’re making a lot of mistakes in the United States right now.
We’ve got to get this right.
I want my children to look forward to gathering around the table at Thanksgiving. I want them to remember seeing their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and neighbors bowing their heads in reverence and gratitude to God. I want them to learn that being thankful for what we have is better than getting things.
When I’m gone, I hope my grandchildren remember that their Mamsi loved to cook a turkey just right for whoever would come and enjoy it with us. I hope they still watch “Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.” I hope they will tell the story of Thanksgiving to their children. I hope they’ll read Sarah’s story to their own children.
To me, Thanksgiving is sacred. There was something almost magical about driving through town to grandma’s house as a child and noticing that every.single.store. was closed to honor this special day. We took a break. We played games. We ate food. We listened to the stories of our grandparents—and we learned to give thanks.
We’ve got a nightmare before Christmas in this country when we forget Thanksgiving in a rush to buy more things and hurry past it to the “most wonderful time of the year.”
To forget is to miss out on the blessing.
Let’s remember. Let’s stop shopping for one day and give thanks to God for all we have.
Yes, it’s just one day, but it’s no ordinary day.
Take time. Slow down. Look up. Look around. Be thankful.