- Steven Chapman
I Don’t Do Thanksgiving In November
All across FACEBOOK people are tracking us through the 30-days of Thanksgiving during the month of November. The items for which they are thankful include the predictable spouses, children, jobs, homes, etc., and some not so predictable a battle with cancer, a forced relocation and a number of other circumstances of which we could easily understand not being thankful. But I have resisted writing these lists.
Now, before you get me wrong … let me clarify … I do not have a problem with people sharing things for which they are thankful. I believe that such a list can be a nice testimony declaring the trustworthiness of God’s provision. So do not take me to say, “I don’t do thanksgiving.”
Just think: thanklessness is near epidemic in our society. It seems that the more we have been blessed with the less we have to be thankful for because we have come to presume privilege … that which we possess we deserve. As this thanklessness expands there is no thank-you granted to those who hold the door, say a kind word, or give a gift, because they should … they owe it to us.
We definitely need to reorient our thinking to include giving thanks … to God, but also to others as well.
So what am I saying? It is about putting the emphasis on the right syllable. It is not, “I don’t do thanksgiving,” but “I don’t do thanksgiving in November.”
There has been a national reservation for Thanksgiving even since our first President, George Washington, was asked by Congress to proclaim such a day dedicated to “publick thanksgiving” following his first inauguration. That first Thanksgiving was November 26 of 1789. Over the next 70 years, a day of Thanksgiving was celebrated annually on unpredictable dates in the fall, usually in November. Abraham Lincoln codified the month with the official proclamation that cemented one day of November and Thanksgiving together in his proclamation that the last Thursday of November was Thanksgiving. Then Congress officially changed the Thanksgiving Day commemoration to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.
So what is my problem with November? I don’t have one. Great things happen in November. My birthday is in November. I started dating my wife in November (but she wasn’t my wife at the time). College basketball season gets rolling in November. Election Day is in November (okay that my be a reason to not give thanks).
Here is my point: Thanksgiving should not be restricted to one day or even one month a year. Paul instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Thanksgiving should constantly be expressed. It should ooze from our lives and flow from our lips, not according to the calendar, but according to the graciousness of God.
It seems to me that the only time of year that the necessity of giving thanks to God for the waves of blessings that we find ourselves swimming in every day occurs to us is just before we put ourselves into a turkey-induced tryptophan coma.
I don’t do thanksgiving in November because 30-days is an insufficient amount of time to catalogue the things for which God deserves my thanks. I want God to wake me to the beauty of His blessings throughout the year, and to have a heart that wells up with gratitude to such a great God.
I don’t want to restrict that to a day, or even a month. Maybe we could try a year of thanksgiving … or a lifetime would even be better.