Thanksgiving, which we celebrated in the US yesterday, is a celebration of God’s abundance - a time to give thanks for the harvest and for the many blessings in our lives. Today is the day after Thanksgiving, called in the popular press "Black Friday" because of the multitude of people who will descend on stores in hopes of finding a good bargain. For me, today is a day of reckoning and of anticipation. I am reckoning with the tightness of my jeans this morning, with all the leftover food in our refrigerator and the memory of spending all day in the kitchen yesterday. The words of my husband, who exclaimed last night as he was cleaning up after our extravagant feast, "This seems wasteful - why do we do this every year?" echo through my mind.
I didn’t have the words to answer my husband last night, but now I do: I reckon that for me to spend one day a year in the kitchen creating food for my family and friends is a creative and worthy endeavor. For me, preparing an extravagant Thanksgiving feast is a labor of love. It is a way to honor the memory of my mother, who was commander-in-chief of my birth family’s holiday feasts and celebrations. It is a way of celebrating God’s abundance, blessings and the love that I am so fortunate to share with my amazing family. This is why we do this every year. To do any less would seem, well, less abundantly thankful.
I am not against making Thanksgiving simpler, and I may be moved to do so in the future. For now, this is what feels right.
Today is also a day of anticipation of the coming holiday season. Many of you have already been out in the stores, snatching up a bargain and working on that Christmas life of gifts. For many, however, this Christmas will be a lean one, due to lay-offs, slow-downs and reduced revenues caused by an economy that seems to careen from one disaster to the next. Instead of focusing only on gift lists, Christmas cards and the business of the season, take some time today to anticipate how you will find meaning this holiday season. In addition to preparing a budget for your holiday gift spending, make a budget for participating in fulfilling holiday experiences, many of which cost no or little money.
What will bring you the most satisfaction during this holy time of Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah and the Solstice? How will you honor the birth of the Christ child and the return of the Light within you this season?
- Will you re-commit to your personal prayer or meditation practice and be more faithful to it?
- Will you attend a retreat or special religious service that connects you with the real meaning of the season?
- Will you participate in a service project, either at your place of worship or in the community?
- Will you contribute money to the causes and charities that mean the most to you?
- Will you find some time in every day to listen for the still, small voice of God in your life?
- Will you attend a concert, ballet, play or Christmas pageant that brings joy to your heart?
- Will you bake a family recipe and deliver it to a friend?
Take some time today to reckon and anticipate. Take a reckoning of where you are right now, in all aspects of your life. Then, anticipate how you will celebrate the true meaning of the holiday season.