A Case for Thanksgiving | The Speckled Goat: A Case for Thanksgiving


A Case for Thanksgiving

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It was a whole month ago, already, that Christmas decorations started popping up right alongside the ghouls and witch hats in Menards.

Before Halloween, even, the Christmas trees were up and decorated, inspiring visions of shiny wrapped presents and lightly falling snow.

It was too soon, in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas.

I mean, I really love Christmas.

I'm one of those people who belt out Christmas songs, and I don't change that radio station even though it's the same ten songs over and over (and why in heaven's name they insist on playing boy-band versions of the classics is beyond me, but still).

I drink peppermint hot cocoa for an entire month. I have been known to lay under the Christmas tree just to look up at the lights and inhale that piney smell.

I love Christmas, but Thanksgiving has slowly become my favorite holiday.

It wasn't always that way. Like I said, I love Christmas.

But since spending time counting my daily blessings, since working on this habit of seeking joy in every circumstance, I value Thanksgiving so much more.

While Thanksgiving is not an inherently biblical holiday, giving thanks is a huge (huge) theme throughout the Bible.

Noah's first action after departing the ark was to build an altar and give thanks. 
Joshua told the tribes of Israel to make a memorial of stones so they would remember and give thanks to God who brought them to the Promised Land. 
At the Last Supper, Jesus gives thanks during the meal- an action we replicate in communion.
Paul begins most of his New Testament letters by giving thanks to God for fellow believers. 

The list goes on and on.

I can't help but think- in my own life, how often do I make a memorial? How often do I stop to make an altar?

If we're talking literally, here, my response would be... never. Even symbolically, though, I rarely make it a point to give more than a passing "Thanks, God," to the One who's given me everything.

And Paul says that's a dangerous place to be:

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images... " - Romans 1:22-24a

Even though we know God, if we neglect to glorify Him and give Him thanks, we risk becoming foolish and vulnerable.

Christmas is such an important holiday- I understand. For the Christian, Christmas is the celebration of our God who loves- who loves enough to come to us, even when we continually turn from Him. It's the beginning of our salvation, of our God come to earth to save us all.

It's about what God has done for us.

Thanksgiving is when we are intentional about how we respond.

See, the difference between being spoiled and being blessed is how we respond. The difference between entitlement and humbly taking hold of grace is our gratefulness.

I don't want to take my God's blessings in my life for granted. I don't want to forget His goodness to me. 

So, how do we do it?

There are so many traditions in place to help us celebrate holidays like Christmas- from Advent wreaths to Christmas pageants, we've pretty well got Christmas celebrations down. 

What traditions can we begin in Thanksgiving to help us intentionally celebrate and give thanks?

A couple of ideas: 

Make A Memorial

With A Tablecloth: Have every person present write what they're thankful for (using fabric markers) on a white tablecloth. Use the same tablecloth every year- it will serve as a kind of memorial throughout the years of how God has been faithful to your family. 

With a Stone: Hand out small stones to everyone, and have each person write what they're thankful for on their stone. Keep your Thankfulness Stones in a jar, and pull it out each year (or keep the jar in a prominent place throughout the year). 

With a Story: Every family has had difficult times that God has brought them through. Tell the story of those difficult times, and how God was faithful through it and worked it for your good. These family histories are a legacy!

Make Your Table Prayer Unique

I'm guilty of just saying the same prayer every time I sit down to a meal. It's quick, it's to the point, and then it's time to eat.

Making the table prayer at Thanksgiving a unique one is another way to mentally set apart this day in special thanks to God. Some different options include using a prayer that's been written by someone else. You could also say a Psalm of thanksgiving in a call-and-response sort of way to involve everyone at the table. Or, you could all sing a song of praise as a table blessing.

Give Thanks for One Another

Paul was super good at this one. I mentioned above that Paul usually begins or ends his letters with thanksgiving for those in the churches to whom he's writing, or for those in ministry alongside him.

A very simple activity to incorporate giving thanks for one another would be to write the name of each person on a sheet of paper- then have each person write a little something about why they're grateful for that person on the paper. Not only is it a way to give thanks for each other, but it also is a really nice way to appreciate and encourage everyone.

Or, try a twist on a Thanksgiving tradition you already have to include some gratefulness for the people around you. On your after dinner walk, talk about moments from the past year that have really blessed your heart through your family or friends.

However you make Thanksgiving special, this year, let's make sure that it's not just about turkey and mashed potatoes. Make your Thanksgiving intentional- because we're so blessed. Let's respond in gratitude.

What Thanksgiving traditions does your family have? Why are they meaningful to you?

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  1. Thanksgiving is a pretty special holiday :) I love being cognizant of what I'm thankful for.

    1. For sure! It really brings me to a place where I can find more joy and more peace when I go about life with a grateful heart.

  2. I like to take it slow and savor one holiday before another, though I do love Christmas! We always run a 5k together as a family and spend time being thankful for all that we have.

    1. A 5K? That's dedication! =)

      I agree, I really enjoy each holiday, but when we rush from one to another it's not as special somehow.

  3. Lovely ideas on how to keep Thanksgiving in front.