I am finding that seminary and the city which surrounds us are no different than any other American setting. A week before Halloween, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and every other store around us were already setting out their Christmas candies and supplies. The grocery store began offering Toby’s long awaited coffee creamers – Peppermint Mocha and Pumpkin Spice. And, I began receiving the onslaught of Kohls coupon mailers (not complaining), luring me to start my Christmas shopping.
The weekend after Halloween, a large Christmas star illuminated the seminary’s bell tower. During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, large white angels, Christmas lights in front of the chapel, manger scenes, and a small Christmas town on the president’s lawn suddenly began to appear. At work in the library, Toby’s main task was to create Christmas decorations out of old books to hang on their “Go Greener” Christmas tree. All this, before Thanksgiving ever had a chance.
The holidays are exciting. The decorations are beautiful and heart-warming, but what about Thanksgiving? At one point last week, my daughter jokingly wished us a Merry Thanksgiving. Poor, old Happy Thanksgiving! Lost in the commotion of Merry Christmas. It’s as if Happy Thanksgiving is just the butler answering the door for the prestigious Madam Merry Christmas. We politely nod to him, hand him our coat, but quickly head straight to Madam Christmas’ fabulous festivities, not once looking back at old Thanksgiving.
At first I thought we should move old Thanksgiving to June or something, giving him a better position on the calendar. Maybe then we could better focus on him and what he has to say. But then I realized that I need Thanksgiving right where he is in order to prepare my heart for the season of Christmas.
I need Thanksgiving to sit me down and focus my thoughts on the trueness of Christmas that is quickly forgotten inner midst Kohls coupons, Christmas decorations, holiday sales, and amazingly-flavored hot coffee. Being surrounded by such wonderful holiday hubbub unfortunately can create a diversion from the truth of Christmas and we need Thanksgiving to set the pace.
Christmas marks the birth of God’s greatest gift to us – a Savior. Christmas is a time to reflect on that very gift, the miracle of God with us – our Immanuel. Christmas should not only be a time of family, fun, and festivities, but more importantly a time of great thanksgiving. So old Thanksgiving is no longer the butler, ushering us towards the more favored Madam Christmas. Instead, Thanksgiving is actually at the very heart of our Christmas celebration.“When you thank Me for the many pleasures I provide, you affirm that I am God, from whom all blessings flow… Fill up the spare moments of your life with praise and thanksgiving. This joyous discipline will help you live in the intimacy of My Presence.” (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, p. 8)