Wednesday, November 10, 2004

[Thoughts] Thanksgiving Season

A good friend of mine recently related in an email his family's plan for "The Holidays" this year:

We really look forward to Thanksgiving, especially this year. This year we have decided to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day very differently.

What's it all about?
We have for years been perplexed to how to celebrate Christmas faithfully, deliberately, simply and wholeheartedly. Due to the common mixing together of religious traditions with secular traditions and rabid commercialism, we often felt more comfortable minimizing the seasonal religious traditions in an effort not to trivialize the name of Christ. We also did not want ourselves and our children to be immersed in selfish commercialism.

No matter what direction we would consider, we were left with questions such as:

  • Is the big deal about having a tree living deliberately?
  • How do we keep peace with grandparents and their traditions?
  • Do we really believe that it is better to give than to receive, and what's the point anyway?
  • Isn't Christmas Roman Catholic (Christ-Mass)?
  • Can we afford it?
  • What's wrong with having a good time?
  • What are we teaching the children and declaring about Christ before the world?

Well, I think we found what we were looking for. It all finally came together one evening after having the [pastor's family] over for supper. We had discussed the topic lightly, but just enough to get the wheels spinning again. I had declared that I thought Thanksgiving was the best holiday and that you could never be too thankful. We discussed the differences between families, with some celebrating the birth of Christ to some not celebrating at all. [Pastor] noted that they wait until New Year's Day to unwrapped presents with grandparents. When they left it fell together instantly.

Thanksgiving Season
We are going to celebrate Thanksgiving from November 23rd to January 1st. We will start the celebration with our traditional Thanksgiving feast with the inclusion of many prayers, hymns and songs of thanks, stories of Thanksgiving past, reading of the Word and more feasting throughout the day. This year we will be hosting both my parents, my brother, [my wife]'s parents and siblings and possibly an aunt.

The weekend following Thanksgiving day, we will obtain a 'Thanksgiving Tree.' This is not just a cop-out and relabeling of the Christmas tree. Each day leading up to Christmas Day, we will put ornaments on the Thanksgiving Tree that symbolize things that we are thankful for. This should fit nicely with all the family pictures we receive this time of year. Once we receive a picture we will create a ornament frame for it and hang it on the tree out of thanksgiving for that family in out lives.

No santas or elves. Only things deliberate and ascetically ornamenting.

Christmas... I mean... Thanksgiving Celebration
Then on Christmas day, we highlight our Thanksgiving by remembering the One we are most thankful for, the Gift of the eternal Son. We will spend the whole day celebrating Christ in worship, music, feasting, dancing and stories. No presents under the tree (other than those we plan to give to others) and no common 'reindeer games.' Our church does have a Christmas eve worship service that we will also participate in and we will likely go to some local Christmas choir concerts, but no parades and such.

We will really seek to elevate our celebration to a level of meaningful gratitude and deliberate participation. Even though our celebration will find its pinnacle on Christmas day, we will still call this celebration Thanksgiving throughout.

New Year's Party
And as the year comes to an end, we will summarize and recollect the events of the past year that we are thankful for and party once again with feasting on New Year's day as we petition our Lord for sanctification, contentment and greater faithfulness in the year ahead. We also will gather with family and open a few gifts from one another (maybe a slight compromise, but gift giving is good and we hope to learn how to give more faithfully also). [I read recently that we ought to be more thoughtful with our gift giving and give representations of ourselves in our gift because God the Father gave to us one that represents Him. Doug Wilson in My Life for Yours, I believe.]

We are also tossing out our Christmas stockings tradition and replacing with a new cornucopias tradition. It is still under development at the moment, but it has a promising start.

I only wish I lived close enough to this brother to partake in his celebration!

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 11/10/2004 01:21:50 PM